The 2nd Annual Young Women’s Forum
A day of powerful intergenerational dialogue by Diana Rice
After a rousing game of Instant Scavenger Hunt led by Elaine Keeble, our very own Deputy Provincial Commissioner, the YWF kicked off with our keynote speaker, GGC-Québec PR and Communications wonder-lady Emily.
My co-organiser and I had asked Emily to provide her perspective on American Scouting (she was a Girl Scout of the USA in her youth) and to speak to her decision to choose the non-profit sector as a career path.
Emily did not disappoint! She captivated all of us, participants and volunteers alike. Her story and her motivation to work for women’s non-profit organisations were intensely powerful and emotional. By the end of her keynote address everyone in the room was left smiling but also glassy eyed. I won’t lie, I was also part way caught between cheering and crying, which was exactly what the day needed.
After her address Emily led a large group discussion with all of the participants and here both the smiles and tears continued, which was wonderful! It might seem strange to say that smiles and tears were positive, but these two emotional reactions were emblematic of what this day was truly about, giving young women a safe space to speak and be heard. Society often tells us or rather expects women to easily voice our emotions, yet by the same token women are often raised to be quiet, to say less, not to appear aggressive or heaven forbid emotional or passionate in public. Women are encouraged to cry, but not to explain why or be taken seriously for their motivations. Thus the manifestation of both tears and smiles and open truthful heartfelt dialogue that came from Emily’s address and group discussion set the perfect tone for the day.
During the remainder of the day all of the participants broke up into their respective sessions. My co-organiser Amber, Deputy Provincial Commissioner, and I decided to sit in on two of the sessions and take notes. I was the note taker for Teen Advocacy and Who are You? sessions (both were session designed for Pathfinders and Rangers). I was so blown away with the dialogue in these sessions. One of the lessons I have learnt as a Pathfinder and Ranger leader over the past seven years, is that very few adults bother to listen to teens, or if they do, they rarely take their voice(s) seriously. Further to this, so frequently teens are not given adequate credit for their intellectual capabilities. In both sessions I participated as note taker every single girl had something profoundly important, powerful and intelligent to say. Perhaps my favourite quote of the day came from a Ranger, “I don’t understand how grown-ups think we are so selfish and self-involved, but like, they are the inventors and investors in social media, digital tech like smart phones, teen-centered TV, film, magazines, advertising and modern communications, shouldn’t they take the blame too, we didn’t create this world”. I won’t lie; I gave that girl a high-five.
Like every event we too suffered from a few pit-falls. While we offered all of our participants a nice lunch spread, we did not have enough for all of our volunteers for the day. So next year we promise this crucial error will not be repeated! What is a Guiding event without a cornucopia of food!
We ended the day similarly to how we started it, with an open group discussion about our future in the organisation, our motivations for staying involved and the various opportunities outside of being unit leaders in GGC. Of course there was a group photo and evaluation sheets at the very end! We have gone through all of them and it is so lovely to see that everyone enjoyed themselves and pledged to spread the word for next year and come back themselves! YEA!
A huge thank you to those of you who came – it was so wonderful to meet and HEAR what all of you had to say because it is so important. For those of you who missed it, maybe you are enticed for next year? Let’s hope we get to see you there!
Have a wonderful summer! On behalf of the organising committee we would like to THANK all of those who attended and volunteered, all of you made this day such an amazing success!
About our Guest Blogger: Diana is a Pathfinder leader in the Lakeshore District and Co-Organiser of the Young Women’s Forum. Interested in Guest Blogging? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!