Every year on February 22, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides across 150 countries come together to celebrate World Thinking Day. Like many awesome things, it first happened at camp—Camp Edith Macy in New York, to be exact. That’s where delegates from around the globe gathered in 1926 and agreed to create a special day to recognize and honor our worldwide sisterhood of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides.
Since then, World Thinking Day has become a way to raise awareness of issues that impact girls and young women across the globe. It also serves as an opportunity for girls to connect with others in communities near and far by doing the same activities around a shared theme. The theme for World Thinking Day 2020 is “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”
This year’s theme highlights the diversity, equity, and inclusion reflected in the Girl Scout and Girl Guide movement, and calls attention to the ways that girls can work to make their world a more equitable and inclusive place. It’s a weighty topic, for sure, but that’s why we’re here—this post is just the first in a four-part series we’ve developed to guide you as you lead your troop this World Thinking Day.
Why is Girl Scouts focusing on this theme?
By focusing on this theme, we can ensure we’re being intentional when we say that Girl Scouts is a place for all girls. Our world is changing—the Minnesota State Demographic Center estimates that people of color and Native Americans will make up one-quarter of the state’s population by 2035. As these demographics shift, we need to learn how to change with them so we can be open to and inclusive of new and emerging communities.
For Girl Scouts, this is nothing new. In fact, it’s been our modus operandi. If you look at our organization’s history, you’ll see that we’ve always tried to adapt to meet girls’ needs—from printing booklets in multiple languages for newly arriving immigrants in the 1930s to desegregating troops in the 1950s—and these needs are ever-changing. A sense of belonging and positive self-identity is a human need, much like food, water, and shelter. Children thrive when they feel like they’re part of a larger community. This “beloved community,” as author and social activist bell hooks states, “is formed not by the eradication of difference, but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shaped who we are and how we live in the world.”
What do we mean when we say “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”?
Before embarking on any topic, it’s always good to make sure that everyone has shared meaning around that specific topic. When you talk about diversity, you may have a certain picture in mind, but the definition could be totally different for someone else. Here’s what we mean when we say diversity, inclusion, and equity, and how you can break these terms down so girls of all ages can understand.
The shared and different variants of identity, skill, appearance, abilities, or characteristics of any group. These variants are not always visible.
Definition for girls: Having different types of people in a group, such as people of different races, cultures, and abilities.
The approach that ensures fairness in the allocation of resources, support, and opportunities in order to achieve equal outcomes.
Definition for girls: Fairness or justice in how people are treated.
The value that people of all backgrounds, identities, abilities, perspectives, and beliefs should have an opportunity to belong, achieve, and contribute to their communities. It is also the act of creating spaces and environments where everyone feels welcomed, respected, and supported in order to fully participate.
Definition for Girls: Accepting or taking in others.
This year’s World Thinking Day theme of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has far-reaching impacts on how we as troop leaders and volunteers can advance Girl Scout’s mission of creating girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. The endeavor of exploring differences, recognizing inequity, and agitating for change can be complex, messy, and difficult, but it’s work we need to do.
Next in the series: World Thinking Day 2020: Laying the Groundwork
Lily Yu –Lily is a Program Resource Specialist at River Valleys. She earned her BA in comparative literature and Japanese from Hamilton College and has a background in publishing and advertising. Though she wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up, Lily is making up for lost time as a volunteer and troop cookie manager for her daughter’s Brownie troop. In her free time, she enjoys going for long walks, reading, and spending time with her family (and rescue dog, Neil!)