Girl Scouts of Colorado and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) today launches the G.I.R.L. Agenda Powered by Girl Scouts,* a nonpartisan initiative to inspire, prepare, and mobilize girls and those who care about them to lead positive change through civic action. The multiyear effort celebrates the Girl Scout legacy of civic engagement, and for the first time ever, GSUSA is sharing free, expert-curated civic engagement resources beyond its 2.6 million members. The resources are derived from Girl Scout programming that has driven generations of girls over the past century to become leaders.
Introduced at G.I.R.L. 2017, a gathering of girls and women from around the world, the G.I.R.L. Agenda makes it simple to access civic engagement resources that are tailored to prepare every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ to stand up for what they believe in. The tools provide a roadmap for how people can take action in ways such as challenging unfair policies, mobilizing communities to support important causes, and meeting with public officials and community leaders to educate them about key issues. By making age-appropriate resources based on GSUSA’s proven programming accessible to all, and by providing actionable steps people can take through Girl Scouts’ advocacy network to help people influence policy issues that affect girls, the G.I.R.L. Agenda will give hundreds of thousands of girls and adults tangible ways to take civic action on topics of their choosing.
The G.I.R.L. Agenda makes it simple and rewarding to access free civic engagement resources derived from Girl Scout programming to prepare all G.I.R.L.s to do the below and more:
• Advocate for positive change in their communities. Cassandra, a 17-year-old Ambassador, has been fighting to end child marriage in New Hampshire.
• Stand up against everyday injustices. Muslim Girl Scouts in California educate their community by holding an annual Open Mosque Day to combat Islamophobia.
• Challenge unfair policies and champion causes. Oregon Brownies spoke up to help pass a law that protects good Samaritans who rescue kids and animals left in hot cars.
• Mobilize communities to donate or volunteer for causes. In Ohio, a multi-level troop advocated for firefighters, prompting a local store to donate new furniture to the firehouse.
• Engage in letter-writing campaigns to advocate for change. A Junior troop’s letter-writing campaign led to improved safety measures for kids who walk to school.
• Create and support petitions. Troop 30245’s petition helped pass a law banning tobacco use in its town parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields.
• Call or meet with public officials and community leaders to educate them about important issues. Girl Scouts from across Connecticut came to the state capitol to meet with their legislators and discuss their disappointment about the lack of pay equity.
• Participate in parades and marches. Girl Scouts placed flags at more than 5,000 grave sites at the East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery prior to marching in their local Memorial Day parade.
• Support businesses with shared beliefs. Linnea, a Gold Award Girl Scout, set up a shop in her small town featuring fair-trade products from companies that donate profits to causes like improved healthcare, clean water, and better education.
There has been increased attention around civic engagement in the United States since the 2016 presidential election: according to a study by the Pew Research Center, more than half of Americans are paying more attention to politics since the election, including nearly six in ten women (58 percent). However, research also shows that the public education system is not creating an adequate civic education foundation for all youth, and a Girl Scout Research Institute poll found that just 38 percent of girls say their teachers have encouraged them to pursue politics and community leadership.
Since its founding in 1912, Girl Scouts has emphasized the importance of being civically engaged, by teaching and encouraging girls to create positive change in their communities through advocacy and action. Girl Scouts learn to stand up for what they believe in, identify issues they care about, and take the lead like a G.I.R.L. to make the world a better place. The G.I.R.L. Agenda is for all those who support girls in standing up for issues and causes that are important to them.
Also part of the initiative, Girl Scouts announces its new Good Neighbor badge for Daisies (girls in grades K–1). It joins the organization’s existing Citizen badges—Celebrating Community, Inside Government, Finding Common Ground, Behind the Ballot, and Public Policy—which engage girls in age-appropriate activities involving community service, public policy, government, voting, and more. These badges are designed to foster girls’ interest in civic engagement and show them that their voices can be heard. And by exploring the themes in an all-girl environment, girls build the confidence they need to become the civic-minded leaders our world needs.
“Many people, including girls, want to become active in public policy and learn how to advocate for positive change, but they don’t know where to start,” said GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo. “Through the G.I.R.L. Agenda and our proven civic-engagement programming, Girl Scouts serves as a nonpartisan resource for girls—and those who care about them―to learn concrete steps they can take to stand up for what they believe in. For more than a century, Girl Scouts has supported girls by offering tools that prepare them to lead, lift their voices, champion their views, and be advocates for the issues and ideas important to them. We’re excited to share resources on www.GIRLagenda.org, so people can learn how to take action for the cause of good in their communities. Because when we take small, yet meaningful steps together—across generations—we ignite a larger, lasting impact on our world.”
Throughout the coming months, GSCO and GSUSA will share stories from G.I.R.L. Agenda supporters who are advocating for girls and the issues they care about. This will include the experiences of past and present National Young Women of Distinction, the top Gold Award Girl Scouts recognized nationally for transforming an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with sustainable and far-reaching impact. If the public wishes to share such stories on social media, they should include #GIRLagenda. To advance the G.I.R.L. Agenda and for tips on leading positive change through civic action, visit www.GIRLagenda.org.*