Girlguiding South West England hosted an event at Southampton Art Gallery on Wednesday 8th March. The event was opened by Dame Judith MacGregor DCMG LVO, and guests included the founders of Neurodiverse Sport, the Sheriff of Southampton, the Labour Leader of Southampton Council, and Hampshire FA, along with Girlguiding members.
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On Wednesday 8 March, on International Women’s Day 2023, Girlguiding revealed their new branding to the world. To celebrate these two occasions, Dame Judith Macgregor DCMG LVO, Deputy Lieutenant for Hampshire, joined Girlguiding South West England to open our exciting networking event in Southampton to celebrate and champion the work that Girlguiding has been doing over the last 110 years. Dame Judith has been President of the FCO Women’s Association since 2006 and spoke about her remarkable life and career empowering women, including how she oversaw a significant increase in the number of FCO women in senior grades.
Laura Cottey, Chief Commissioner for Girlguiding South West England, said, “it was a pleasure to welcome a wide range of guests to our International Women’s Day event for 2023 in Hampshire. Girlguiding has been challenging gender stereotypes and discrimination for over 110 years but so much has happened in the lives of girls and young women recently that we were keen to use International Women’s Day as an opportunity to rebrand to the world and let them know ‘We help all girls know they can do anything’. We heard inspiring career stories from Dame Judith Macgregor, Deputy Lieutenant for Hampshire and explored current issues for girls and young women in sport with Hampshire FA and our incredible young members”. The evening networking event focused on the IWD 2023 theme of ‘Embrace Equity’ – a truly fitting topic for all that Girlguiding South West England does to tackle gender stereotypes.
At the event, two women from Hampshire FA, and two young Guiding members discussed the results of Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2022, which found 59% of girls and young women aged 7-21 saying they see or experience sexism when taking part in sport themselves but over half (59%) also thinking sport is good for their mental health. Hannah, Female Pathway Football Development Officer at Hampshire FA, said “having female role models growing up and visible gives people something to look up to which is really important especially in sport”.
One Guiding member said without her Guiding leader she would not have been encouraged to experience all of the amazing chances within Girlguiding, and has even been selected to attend a trip to Morocco – a once in a lifetime opportunity made possible through Guiding. The panel were also asked how we can encourage girls and women to be more physically active and take part in team sports to build confidence. Jordan, Female Recreational Football Development Officer at Hampshire FA, said one of the main things that needs to be done is “making sure you make it inclusive and accessible to girls to get as many involved as possible”.
Daphne and Bronwyn, both from Girlguiding Hampshire West, said “making sure the offering is fun is so important, I didn’t realise I could do sport non-competitively until I went to university. It’s taken me 19 years to realise you didn’t have to be good at it to do it” and that “Girlguiding allows you to do sport away from school and away from everyday lives. I am currently doing my Duke of Edinburgh gold award with Guiding. One of amazing things about sport is it brings people together in a new light and you meet lots of new people and it’s a fun way of doing it”.
In 2022, 12 Girlguiding members from Hampshire were given the opportunity to be flag bearers at Southampton Football Club as part of the Women’s Euros 2022 tournament – an absolute honour and privilege to team up with UEFA to give girls amazing opportunities to experience football in new ways.
The panel discussion was closed by a comment which really summed up the theme of the evening – “it is about being open to changing small things and broaden our targeting to overcome gender stereotypes, increase our reach and truly embrace equity. Guiding really provides an opportunity to open our minds and be open to this and adapt how we do things to really include everyone”.
 Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2022 https://www.girlguiding.org.uk/girls-making-change/girls-attitudes-survey/