International Women's Day 2019

Championing a new generation of strong female Scouts

 

Challenging inequality and championing inclusivity are values that ScoutsCymru holds with pride.

 

Female inclusion, in particular, is an issue which continues to be of significance to us, as an organisation that has been traditionally viewed as male dominated.

 

In a bid to combat this perception, over the last few years we have worked tirelessly to promote gender inclusivity to encourage a new generation of strong female members and leaders.

 

Thanks to our efforts, the number of girls joining the movement in Wales continues to grow year on year.

 

We now have 3,263 girls in scouting up 5.3% on the year before and 2,313 female volunteers, up 11.8% on 2018.

 

As a result of this influx, five of Scouts’ 10 fastest growing counties in the UK for female members, can now be found here in Wales.

 

So, with young women playing such a crucial role in the progression and growth of scouting in Wales, we caught up with inspirational members Beth Haven, of the Orme Explorers Unit in Colwyn Bay, and Brianne Evans, Explorer leader with Red Dragon Explorers and Jamboree unit leader for the Welsh Baabarians, to mark International Women’s Day.

 

Here they discuss how being a member of Scouts has changed their lives, what women inspire them, and how important it is that scouting has broken free of its traditionally male-dominated image.

 

Beth said: “I started Scouting quite late and joined the Explorer unit last year. I was already, and still am, a Girl Guide but decided to join Scouts in search of new challenges, the chance to be more active outdoors, try new activities, as well as making new friends within scouting.”

 

Despite not being in Scouts long, Beth has already been able to see a vast improvement in her confidence.

 

She said: “I have learnt new problem-solving skills and have really enjoyed learning to kayak and climb both indoors and outdoors at a higher level. I have also been able to achieve the Chief Scout Platinum and Diamond awards, and I am also awaiting confirmation of the completion of my Queen’s Scout Award.”

 

The high achieving 17-year-old has excelled since joining the organisation and has also achieved her Gold Duke of Edinburgh, Queen’s Scout Award and Queen’s Guide Award.

 

Alongside her achievements, being a Scout has also helped her in her everyday life.

 

“I have become more confident and have learnt new skills, as well as increasing my knowledge of different cultures and religions which I am finding very helpful in my A level studies. I am also very active, which undoubtedly helps my health. I’m involved in a variety of sport activities from kayaking to climbing and completing some outdoor navigation. We are also going to take part in the River Wye cruise this year as well as returning to Gilwell camp in summer.”

 

And it appears this focus on outdoor activities and fitness, is just one aspect which has attracted so many girls to join Scouts over the past few years.

 

Beth said that she believed this sporting focus encouraged a competitive spirit between the male and female members, which ultimately led to natural bonding and increased confidence among members.

 

She said: “We are very lucky to have so many girls in our unit. I think that many girls are wanting to be more active and adventurous and are seeing scouts as a great opportunity for this.

 

“I believe that there is a great unity between the boys and girls, many of my close scouting friends are guys. We all have great communication with each other, which I think is something which the school environment can lack until you are older. There is healthy competition and joking between the boys and girls in our group, but we all help each other and have grown close as a unit.”

 

And finally, in recognition of inspirational women worldwide on International Women’s Day, Beth revealed what female role models have spurred her on.

 

She added: “Personally I don't have many role models. My mum is a huge inspiration to me, but I believe in being your own role model.

 

“I don't want to grow up to be like someone else no matter who they are, I want to grow up to be the best woman I can possibly be.”

 

Brianne Evans (known as Bee) from Cardiff, is slightly older at the age of 24.  She scouts in different groups in a leadership role, and her journey started later than usual at the age of 17 after taking inspiration from her boyfriend.

 

She says, “I started in scouting when I was 17, so pretty late on. My boyfriend had gone to the World Scout Jamboree in 2011 to Sweden and when he came back the difference in him had inspired me to want to join, and I can honestly say it's been the best decision I've ever made.”

 

Bee has progressed quickly through various roles thanks to her passionate dedication to Scouting as well as achieving some highly acclaimed awards along the way.

 

 “From seeing someone come back from the Jamboree and joining scouting, to now taking my own unit to the 2019 World Scout Jamboree - it's crazy. However, that's just a small snippet.  I've progressed within my District roles, from Beaver Leader to AGSL and overall District Beaver leader, completed my Queen Scout Award, my Explorer belt and have had a great time doing it.” 

 

She believes Scouts has also helped her in her career as well as preparing her for more outdoorsy pursuits such as camping.

 

“Scouting has helped me in so many different ways, by helping me to achieve my best within work, getting a new job and making me think outside the box- to get creative. It’s pushed me outside my comfort zone- I used to hate camping and couldn't stand mud and dirt, however now I wouldn't turn a camp down.”

 

Bee also thinks things are changing Wales wide with regards to more girls joining scouts in an overwhelmingly positive way. Of the 35 members within her unit, 18 of which are girls, making it the unit with the largest number of girls in Wales.

 

 

She added, “Personally I believe that things are changing and more girls are realising that Scouting isn't only for boys- which some still don't realise. With all the publicity at the moment I'm hoping it'll bring even more girls into scouts. From a unit leader perspective, I feel that the amount of girls within the unit is a show of how well the areas around are supporting and encouraging girls to join, and how welcome they feel.”  

 

Her female role model, Tanni Grey-Thompson has been held in high esteem by Bee from a young age.

 

She said, “I think she proves to people that anything is possible and to never give up. Which I believe is such a strong message and needs to be shouted more, and it relates well with getting more females to join scouting. Don't let the stigma stop you, we can do anything the boys can do (if not better!).”

 

Female inclusion continues to be a huge priority for ScoutsCymru moving forward and we’d encourage any girls interested in joining or females wishing to volunteer their time to get in touch.