A piece by Rachel Woolcock, Education Editor, in today’s Times:
The Guide association has struck a sponsorship deal with the British Army, angering peace organisations.
Girlguiding UK has accepted the army’s support to develop a leadership skills initiative for girls aged 4 to 18. [J4MB emphasis: Four-year-old girls have a pressing need for a leadership skills initiative. How else will they cope with their leadership responsibilities?] Pictures on social media show girls posing next to army vehicles while holding up “Army, Be the Best” posters.
A petition on change.org to end the sponsorship had been signed by more than 1,000 people. The petition was started by Pippa Gardner, a Guides volunteer and adviser, and is addressed to Amanda Medler, the chief guide.
It states: “This runs counter to Girlguiding’s international and peace-orientated membership of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. It also contradicts Girlguiding’s stance that girls should not participate in war games or shoot at human-shaped targets.”
Ms Gardner said members learnt of the sponsorship in a newsletter, without consultation.
Emma Sangster of Forces Watch, which raises concerns about the army’s recruitment practices, told The Observer: “The act of enlisting is only the final stage of the recruitment process. The armed forces know that, which is why they have a large and growing programme of youth engagement, with young children as well as teenagers.”
A Guides spokeswoman said: “We’re sorry to hear some members are disappointed in our partnership with the British Army. Each partnership is developed to align with our strategy and programme of activities for girls and young women, both of which involve extensive consultation with our members.”
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