In 2002 our Movement, which includes ten million Girl Scouts and Girl Guides
in 144 countries, held its World Conference in the Philippines. It is during
this triennial conference that policies are established or changed, Board
Members elected and committee members appointed. In order to keep the larger
countries from dominating the event, attendance is strictly limited, with each
country entitled to two delegates plus visitors, according to the number of
members the country serves, not to exceed seven. United States Girl Scouts would
find it a small group. Last year there were about 425 people in attendance,
which included members of various committees. Contrast that with the GSUSA
National Council Meeting (also held last year) which is attended by many thousands,
and you get an idea of how much responsibility each delegate has.
Here are some of the major differences: First, participants rarely skip
a session. Every one is vitally important. And the conference lasted from June 18
to the 26th! That's a lot of time to stay focused. Everyone attending must be able
to communicate in English, Spanish or French, and there is simultaneous translation
through individual earphones - like the United Nations. Each country gets only one
vote. The USA gets one vote, and the Cook Islands get one vote; so the very tiny
countries have just as much importance as the huge ones. To complicate matters a bit,
some countries have more than one Association. There may be separate ones for Catholics,
Protestants, Muslims, etc. If you are France, for example, with five Associations,
you must all five decide who will represent the entire country. Most of such
Associations take turns choosing who will attend.
The business item of most interest to GSUSA girls and adults is probably
the discussion and vote on the question of having Girl Scouts/Girl Guides become more
closely associated with Boy Scouts.The Girl Scouts of the USA and the Finnish Girl
Guides together wrote a proposal which was seconded by 96 other countries of the 102
represented and passed easily. It affirms the desire to maintain the independence of
WAGGGS and authorizes Wagggs to continue talking with WOSM about specific activities
that might be suitable for joint efforts.
Election of New Members and those moving to full member status is always
a high point of the Conference, and this time there was the usual competition to see
who could propose each country for election, hoopla, stomping, giving cheers and
presenting flowers to those countries which were elected. And here they are!
New Associate Members: Armenia, Chad, Malawi, Qatar and Cambodia
Associate members moving up to full membership: Burkina Faso, Belarus,
Antiga and Barbuda, Estonia, Senegal, Honduras, Rwanda
A note of sadness:
We had to say goodbye to Indonesia, which
has withdrawn from WAGGGS and become part of the Boy Scouts of that country.
We wish them well, but we shall miss them.
Kirsty Gray was elected new chairman of the World
Board, a position she will hold until 2005. For that next World Conference
the delegates voted to accept the invitation of Jordan to hold it in that
We told you about this project a year ago, and the Olave Baden-Powell Society
has managed to help a number of African countries, but some are still waiting for
their turn to modernize their communication systems. So we are repeating it in hopes
some more of you might help.
Girl Guides Associations in many African countries have to conduct business
without the help of modern electronic office equipment, a situation which desperately
needs changing. It puts the Guides at a big disadvantage when they are trying to
communicate with members and with WAGGGS headquarters and personnel. This same
problem exists in countries on other continents and especially in island nations,
but the OB-PS Society decided to take it on and to start in Africa. They have been
successful in providing computers, modems, etc. for more than 20 countries do far.
And what a difference it has made!
I have been working for 9 years now with African Guide Associations which do not
have these devices, and it has been very difficult. E-mail capability is especially
needed. In some places, I have been fortunate in finding non-Guides who have access
to the Internet and are willing to receive and hand-carry messages I need to send to
Guide offices. In other places, I have to resort to the postal system, which might
mean four or more weeks before I can expect an answer,
and in some countries the postal system is very
can you do? If you have contact with a computer manufacturer or wholesaler,
an international Internet Service Provider, printer-maker (you get the idea), see
if you can get one to contribute one of their products one made to work on
What should you do with it? Contact the OB-PS
through firstname.lastname@example.org, or
me, email@example.com, and we will be delighted
to arrange for your contribution to go to the Association most needing it. Don't
have such a contact? You can send a money contribution to "Get the World Talking"
in care of OB-PS at the World Bureau.
Here's a great way to learn more and help Girl Guide Solar Cooking projects
at the same time. It's a CD which runs in Windows 95 or higher, It's designed for
girl participation. They click to start the next action, they are asked questions
and discuss as they go along. Included is a copy of the WAGGGS Relay Game, a lively
way for them to review what they have just learned.
Actually, there are three versions on the CD:
To order send a check in the amount of $9.00
or more to:
The Girl Scout Solar Cooker Fund
3523 Rolph Way
El Dorado Hills, CA 95762, USA
Many Girl Guide/Girl Scout Associations have their
own web pages, and the World Bureau has a really superb site, which we hope you
will access frequently. It includes news of the World Centres
and links to them as well as to Associations.
In addition, remember that a subscription to Our World News is a worthwhile
investment for troops, companies, and anyone who enjoys reading about the Movement.
For details on how to subscribe, click here to go to the WAGGGS web site:
World Centers Links
Click on the Centre of interest to you.