Manifesto draws on views of 76,000 girls and young women

By Nina Jacobs

| 25 April 2019

Girl-led change on issues ranging from the environment to emotional wellbeing is at the heart of a new manifesto from Girlguiding UK.

The new Girlguiding manifesto is set to empower girls, the minister for women Victoria Atkins has said. Image: Girlguiding

Future Girl sets out key aims for the future across five topics, drawn from the consultation responses of 76,000 girls and young women aged four to 25.

Among the calls are equality for girls and young women, an end to gender stereotypes, bullying and sexual harassment.

Minister for women Victoria Atkins said such initiatives would play a key role in helping girls to feel empowered.

"It is awful, but sadly not shocking, that more than a third of girls are put off from going into politics because of how female politicians are represented in the media," said Atkins.

"From climate change to equality in sport, the Future Girl manifesto encourages girls to confidently pursue their interests, effect change and fulfil their potential as the next generation of female politicians, influencers and activists."

Planet Protectors, Adventurers, Self-Believers, Respect Makers and Barrier Breakers are the headline topics, with self-belief calling for better regulation of social media platforms to minimise pressure on young females to look and act in a certain way.

The research highlights sexual harassment and tackling unhealthy relationships as priorities.

Those who responded on the environment said they wanted to tackle climate change, reduce the use of plastics and encourage recycling.

It also found 15,800 girls aged 10 to 14 said not being able to do the same thing as boys was the most unfair thing about being a girl in modern society.

"No subject at school or career path should feel out of reach to girls. They will champion equality throughout society, at local and national levels," the manifesto states.

Nearly 18,000 Rainbows who took part in the consultation said a lack of access to outdoor parks or playgrounds makes them feel sad and annoyed.

The manifesto calls for girls to "access adventure and play without fear" and for opportunities for them to play the sports that boys typically play too.

Bullying was flagged up as the most important issue to Guides for the future, followed by animal welfare and appearance pressures.

More than 35,000 Brownies (aged seven to 10) said they wanted girls and young women to feel confident expressing their opinions.

Angela Salt, Girlguiding's chief executive officer, said the research showed girls were growing up in a time of some uncertainty, but they were clear about the future they wanted.

"They care about personal issues such as free period products in schools, they care about their own communities and they care about our environment," she said.

"With our dedicated volunteers, we will support them to campaign and to build the future they want."

The findings of the latest Girls' Attitudes survey, carried out annually by the organisation, support the main aims outlined in the new manifesto.

The research showed 67 per cent of girls aged 11 to 21 think their life chances are getting worse, compared to 53 per cent who responded to the survey in 2011.

Nearly three-quarters of girls aged 11 to 21 thought women had to work much harder than men to succeed, compared to 57 per cent in 2011.

The survey also found 34 per cent of girls aged 11 to 21 would not choose a career in politics due to the representation of female politicians in the media.

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