Girlguiding Scotland, the leading charity for girls in Scotland, has joined forces with equality campaign group Women 50:50 to launch Citizen Girl, a new initiative to inspire the next generation of female leaders.
As part of celebrations marking Scotland’s Year of Young People and 100 years since some women first gained the right to vote, Citizen Girl aims to engage girls in politics and show them how powerful their voices can be.
Citizen Girl has been endorsed by female MSPs from across the political spectrum including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Women 50:50 co-founder and Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale, and Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson.
Girlguiding Scotland has launched a new badge and challenge pack to its near 50,000 young members to explore why their voice matters and encourage girls to think about becoming a political leader.
As part of Citizen Girl, Girlguiding Scotland is calling for:
• Political parties to commit to gender equality by putting forward 50 per cent female candidates in local, Scottish and UK elections.
• Politicians at all levels to consult with young people on all of the decisions that impact their lives.
• Businesses, public bodies, and voluntary organisations in Scotland to commit to increasing female representation in management and creating opportunities for the next generation of girls to take the lead.
Citizen Girl follows recent research by Girlguiding which highlights that, despite recent progress, girls continue to feel under-represented in politics with more than one in two girls age 11-21 saying politicians don’t understand the issues facing girls and young women today, while over half think political parties should make sure 50 per cent of all their politicians are female.
The same research also highlighted the impact persistent gender stereotypes continue to have, with more than half of girls age 7-21 saying these stereotypes impact some aspect of their lives including their ability to say what they think, how they behave with their peers and even how likely they are to speak up in class.
Citizen Girl aims to challenge the stereotypes that can hold girls back from speaking out and engaging in politics and inspire a new generation to take the lead, now, and in the future.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Organisations such as Girlguiding Scotland play a vital role in ensuring that the voices of young women and girls are heard and acted on.
“Citizen Girl is an initiative that I warmly welcome. It will create new opportunities for girls and young women to shine locally and nationally.
“The Scottish Government is committed to tackling gender inequality and celebrating the many and valued contributions of young women and girls, in Scotland.”
Women 50:50 co-founder and Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said:
“A century on from some women receiving the vote for the first time, women remain underrepresented in positions of influence in Scotland, giving them unequal access to power, decision-making and participation throughout public life. That simply has to change.
“I’m delighted to back the Citizen Girl initiative, and I look forward to engaging with the next generation of female leaders and encouraging them to use their voices to speak up.
“I am proud of Labour’s approach to candidate selection, but all political parties still need to make further progress on this issue, particularly at local authority level, because we can’t wait 100 more years for gender equality.
“We need it now, and thanks to the incredible work of organisations such as Girlguiding Scotland and Women 50:50, I believe we can secure natural justice for women and end this block to economic progress.”
Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said:
“The first women to win the vote did so 100 years ago and this anniversary affords us the chance to see how far we’ve come – and how far we’ve still got to go.
“Gender blind recruitment and promotion, closing the gender pay gap and empowering more female leaders are some of the essential next steps.
“I congratulate Girlguiding Scotland on the launch of Citizen Girl – every young woman should feel empowered to find her own voice and this campaign will help achieve that”.
Talat Yaqoob, co-founder of Women 50:50, said:
“100 years ago the first women gained the right to vote after a hard-fought campaign; it would take another decade before all women gained the same voting rights as men.
“Since then women have made incredible strides as we push for equal representation yet women continue to make up only around a third of the Scottish and UK Parliament. At its current rate it will take another 50 years before we achieve equal representation.
“Citizen Girl is about celebrating how far we’ve come while empowering the next generation to take the lead. By showing girls, early on, just how powerful their voices are, we can help create a more equal future for girls and young women in Scotland.
“Women 50:50 are delighted to be a part of Citizen Girl and we can’t wait to see what these inspiring young women achieve when they make their voices heard.”
Hannah Brisbane, 21, Girlguiding Scotland’s Lead Volunteer for Voice, said:
“With it being 100 years since the first group of women won the right to vote in the UK it is disappointing that women are still underrepresented in the political process.
“Our research tells us that girls feel like politicians don’t listen and don’t understand their problems. Citizen Girl gives us an exciting opportunity to address these issues during this centenary year and Scotland’s Year of Young People.
“By empowering girls to use their voice we are creating a more equal future that is long overdue. Every girl deserves the right to have their voice heard and this is what Citizen Girl is all about.”
Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitude Survey 2017:
• Girls’ Attitudes 2017 is a survey of 1,906 girls and young women aged between 7 and 21 who were asked about their attitudes on a range of issues from health and wellbeing to education and digital technology.
• A panel of young women from within Girlguiding works with the project team to develop the survey and to comment on its findings. Those surveyed form a representative sample across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and are not restricted to those involved in guiding.
• Research was conducted by leading research specialists on children and young people Childwise and fieldwork took place during March to May 2017
• The questionnaire was adapted to be suitable for different age groups (7-11, 11-16, 16-21), with some core questions asked of all groups. For more information about the Girls’ Attitudes Survey visit: https://www.girlguiding.org.uk/social-action-advocacy-and-campaigns/research/girls-attitudes-survey/
About Girlguiding Scotland:
Girlguiding Scotland is the leading charity for girls and young women in Scotland, with around 50,000 young members. We build girls’ confidence and raise their aspirations. We give them the chance to discover their full potential and encourage them to be a powerful force for good. We give them a space to have fun. Find out more at www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk.