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Girlguiding members encouraged to campaign for change

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Forty guides met in Edinburgh to take part in an event for a groundbreaking advocacy network

Forty Girlguiding Scotland members have taken part in a groundbreaking project to give girls the skills and confidence to speak out on the issues they care about.

The girls, aged 13-18, were the first to take part in Action for Change, a UK-wide advocacy network supported by some of Britain’s leading campaigners.

After a weekend of workshops and advice sessions in Edinburgh they will now go onto campaign for change both in their communities and wider afield.

The event was a pilot for the initiative, which will now be rolled out over the next three years to create the UK’s largest girl-led advocacy network.

Action for Change has given me the tools and confidence to use my voice and make a difference

Action for Change is being backed by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation with workshops being run by inspirational campaigners including Talat Yaqoob, director of Equate Scotland and co-founder of the Women 50:50 campaign and Stevie Wise, who started the Sexist Surcharge petition to stop companies charging more for women’s products.

The group hopes to take action on a wide range of issues - from promoting body confidence and tackling discrimination, to taking a stand against bullying and speaking up on mental health.

Kirsty Gibb, 13, from Lauder, said: “I want to campaign to make sure people with disabilities have the same opportunities and respect as everyone else. It was really exciting to meet girls from all over Scotland who want to speak out and make change and I can’t wait to start working on my campaign.”

Catherine Young, 15, from Dollar, wants to encourage more girls and young women to get involved with STEM subjects.

She said: “I want to campaign for more girls to get involved with science and technology. I really enjoy science and technology but I’ve heard discouraging comments from peers and even from adults, about why these subjects aren’t for girls.

“I want to change that message and Action for Change has given me the tools and confidence to use my voice and make a difference."

Niamh Ritchie, 16, from Dunfermline aims to speak out against unrealistic beauty standards and promote positive body image. She added: “It was really inspiring to hear from other campaigners, who started small but made a big difference on an issue they are passionate about. I hope over the next year I can do the same.”

Sue Walker, Girlguiding Scotland’s chief commissioner, said: “I was thrilled to meet so many girls and young women from all over Scotland who are excited to make change in their local communities and beyond.

“As the leading charity for girls and young women in Scotland, we’re committed to empowering girls and young women to use their voice and be a powerful force for good.

“Girlguiding Scotland’s young members already make a real difference on all sorts of issues – from collecting practical aid for refugees to calling for action to end sexual harassment in schools.

“Action for Change is helping more girls and young women to take social action to the next level, helping them gain the skills and confidence to speak up and make the change they want to see. I can’t wait to see what the girls achieve.”