World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

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Logo of the WAGGGS

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is a global association supporting the female-oriented and female-only Scouting organizations in 144 countries. It was established in 1928 and has its headquarters in London, England. It is the counterpart of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM).

Full members status is held to the European Youth Forum (YFJ) which operates within the Council of Europe and European Union areas and works closely with both these bodies.


WAGGGS provides a high quality non-formal educational program that provides dynamic, flexible and values-based training in life skills, leadership and decision making. It also offers projects and programs at an international level that enable Girl Guides and Girl Scouts to be responsible world citizens through action and activity in the community.

The mission of WAGGGS is to enable girls and young women to develop their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the world. This is achieved through its member organizations. The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is an organization run by women for girls and young women. Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are trained in leadership and decision-making, and are encouraged to participate in the governance and leadership of WAGGGS. Each individual unit is democratically run with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts actively involved in leadership and in decision making.

Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting is open to all girls and young women without distinction of creed, race, nationality, or any other circumstance. The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts believes that the education of girls, as well as the education of boys, includes education for equal partnership. Young men and young women are taught to recognize their differences and their similarities, and to respect each other as individuals.

Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting is a voluntary organisation that relies on over 100,000 volunteers around the world to implement programs for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and to give girls and young women support and leadership. There are over 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 144 countries. Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world can meet each other at international events at one of the four World Centers.

There are many opportunities to attend international events run by the United Nations or other non-governmental organizations on behalf of the Association. The WOSM is the non-governmental organization (NGO), that represents the Scouting movement at the United Nations.[1] The WOSM and WAGGGS both have General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council ECOSOC of the United Nations.[2]


Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting is based on a core set of values that are found in the Girl Guide/Girl Scout Promise and Law. Each Girl Guide and Girl Scout promises to do her best to her faith and to others, and in so doing she realizes her fullest potential as a responsible citizen.

Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting uses non-formal educational methods. Non-formal education is organized educational activity outside schools and colleges. The key components of non-formal education are that:

  • Young people can develop life skills and attitudes based on an integrated value system based on the Promise and Law.
  • Young people learn from their peer group.
  • Young people learn through activities and practical programs that are created by young people for young people
  • Young people volunteer to join non-formal education organizations that are led also by volunteers that ensure commitment and maximum learning.
  • Young people learn by progressive self-development through:
    • Learning by doing,
    • Teamwork though the patrol system and training for responsible leadership, and
    • Active cooperation between young people and adults.

Each Guide/Girl Scout defines her own progress and development according to her needs and aspirations within the framework program provided. This contrasts with many formal education systems where young people must fit themselves into a rigid structure with little recognition of individual needs and differences. The Girl Guide/Girl Scout method is the specific way that the leadership works with girls and young women to achieve the mission of WAGGGS. It is an integrated approach with certain key elements: The Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting method can be used equally effectively with girls of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. In his book "Girl Guiding," Lord Baden-Powell (1918) wrote:

  • "Our method of training is to educate from within rather than to instruct from without; to offer games and activities which, while being attractive to the girl, will seriously educate her morally, mentally and physically."

Many Girl Guides and Girl Scouts end up becoming leading politicians, writers, businesswomen, and leaders. Senator Hillary Clinton (United States Senate), the Rt. Hon Dr. Marjorie Mowlam MP (politician in the United Kingdom), Roberta Bondar Ph.D., MD (first Canadian woman astronaut), and Betty Okwir (leading politician in Uganda) are just a few former and current Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

In 1965, Dame Leslie Whateley of the then-Girl Guides World Bureau was awarded the Bronze Wolf, the only distinction of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, awarded by the World Scout Committee for exceptional services to world Scouting.


Girl Guides were formed in 1910 by Robert Baden-Powell, with the assistance of his sister Agnes Baden-Powell. After his marriage in 1912, his wife Olave Baden-Powell took a leading role in the development of Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting.

As the movement spread, independent national Guiding associations were set up; however, a need for international cooperation was felt. In 1919 an International Council was formed and in 1920 the first International Conference was held in England. After the 1926 International Conference the Baden-Powells were approached about setting up a formal association and in 1928 the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts was founded.

The member organizations continue to meet every three years (initially every two years) at World Conferences.[1]

List of Directors/Chief Executives

List of World Conferences

  • 1920 - first International Conference - Oxford, England
  • 1922 - second International Conference - Cambridge, England
  • 1924 - third International Conference - Foxlease, England
  • 1926 - fourth International Conference - New York, United States
  • 1928 - fifth International Conference - Parad, Hungary - WAGGGS was formed at this Conference
  • 1930 - Foxlease, United Kingdom
  • 1932 - Bucze, Poland
  • 1934 - Adelboden, Switzerland
  • 1936 - Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1938 - Adelboden, Switzerland
  • 1940, 1942 - no World Conference due to World War II
  • 1946 - Evian, France
  • 1948 - Cooperstown, United States of America
  • 1950 - Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 1952 - Dombås, Norway
  • 1954 - Zeist, The Netherlands
  • 1957 - Petropolis, Brazil
  • 1960 - Athens, Greece
  • 1963 - Nyborg, Denmark
  • 1966 - Tokyo, Japan
  • 1969 - Otaniemi, Finland
  • 1972 - Toronto, Canada
  • 1975 - Sussex, England
  • 1978 - Tehran, Iran
  • 1981 - Orléans, France
  • 1984 - Tarrytown, New York, United States of America
  • 1987 - Njoro, Kenya
  • 1990 - Singapore
  • 1993 - Nyborg, Denmark
  • 1996 - Wolfville, Nova Scotia Canada
  • 1999 - Dublin, Ireland
  • 18-24 June 2002 - 31st - Manilla, Phillipines
  • 2005 - 32nd - Amman, Jordan
  • 6 - 12 July 2008 - 33rd - Johannesburg, South Africa


WAGGGS consists of national Member Organizations who are run independently but agree to abide by the WAGGGS constitution. The national Member Organizations are split into five regions. The member organizations in turn elect the World Board, originally the World Committee, which governs the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. It is made up of 17 active volunteer members from around the world who are democratically elected by all Member Organizations and include the Chairs from each of the five WAGGGS regions. In addition there is the permanent staff of the World Bureau based in London and headed by the WAGGGS Chief Executive (formerly Director of the World Bureau). Every three years representatives from the member states meet in a World Conference to discuss and vote on policy.

Each WAGGGS Member Organization chooses how it believes it can best promote these goals, taking into account its culture and the needs of its young people. Some choose to work with girls alone in a single sex environment in order to break down stereotypes and to give girls and young women the confidence to take their place in society. Other Member Organizations prefer to work with mixed groups to enable young women and young men equal partnership within their units. Some Organizations choose to mix co-educational and single sex approaches according the age and the preferences of the young people.

map of WAGGGS regional Girl Guide and Girl Scout divisions; grey areas such as Laos and Cuba have no Scouting

World Regions and Centers

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts has offices in five regional divisions:

Template:Colorbox WAGGGS-Europe Region
Template:Colorbox WAGGGS-Arab Region
Template:Colorbox WAGGGS-Africa Region
Template:Colorbox WAGGGS-Asia Pacific Region
Template:Colorbox WAGGGS-Western Hemisphere Region
Template:Colorbox There is no WAGGGS Region corresponding to the World Organization of the Scout Movement Eurasian Region; post-Soviet nations are divided between the WAGGGS-Europe Region and the WAGGGS-Asia Pacific Region.

WAGGGS operates four World Centers that offer training programs, activities and lodging for girls and leaders, as well as members of some other groups and independent travelers. Activities are primarily focused on international friendship and cooperation, personal development and leadership training, enjoyment and service. The Friends of the Four World Centres organisation supports and promotes the centres.

The four World Centers are:

  • Our Chalet, in Adelboden, Switzerland; opened in 1932.
  • Pax Lodge, in Hampstead, London, England; current location opened in 1990. It is actually. London's third World Centre; the first was Our Ark, opened in 1937, which was renamed Olave House on its 25th anniversary.
  • Our Cabaña, in Cuernavaca, Mexico; opened in 1957.
  • Sangam, in Pune, Maharashtra, India; opened in 1965.


The symbolism of the WAGGGS World trefoil: The three leaves represent the three duties and the three parts of the promise, the two five point-stars stand for the promise and the law and the vein in the centre represents the compass needle showing the right way. The base of the trefoil stands for the flame of the love of humanity and the colours blue and gold represent the sun shining over all children on the world.[3]

See also


External links