Guiding towards womanhood
Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association (SLGGA) will host the next Asia
Pacific Regional Conference in 2007. Over 400 delegates are expected to
The conference will be held in a hotel outside Colombo for five-days.
In addition to main deliberations such as girls' rights, child and women
trafficking, adolescence and HIV/AIDS issues, there will be cultural
events and tours for the delegates during the five-day conference,
President, SLGGA, Siromi Rodrigo told the Daily News.
This is the first time that the SLGGA is hosting an international
event of this magnitude, although they had earlier organised many
international events of modest level.
The event will draw much attention to the tourism sector in the
country as this 400-odd delegate members will be tourism ambassadors for
the island after the event.
Two representatives of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl
Scouts were in Sri Lanka last week on a progress assessment visit prior
to the regional conference. Regional Director Asia Pacific Region, Mei
Lee and a Member of the Asia Pacific Committee, Nighat Arshad visited
many places which come under the purview of SLGGA, including the Girl
Guides' training centre in Kadawatha.
World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is the largest
voluntary organisation for girls and young women in the world. It has 10
million members in 144 countries in five regions; Africa, Arab, Asia
Pacific, Europe and Western Hemisphere. It also has one million
volunteer leaders, Nighat Arshad said.
The Association's main mission is to enable girls and young women to
develop their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the world
irrespective of their age, religion, ethnic group or ability. Under the
world Association there are 145 member countries including Sri Lanka.
Every three years, there is a World Congress of Girl Guides and Girl
Scouts and prior to that there will be regional conferences to find out
the most stressing issues in each region to be taken up at the World
"Regional conferences are very much important because each region
could have a unique issue pertinent to their own countries. For us Asia,
it could be child trafficking, and for Africans, it would be HIV/AIDS
issue. Therefore, a regional conference is an ideal platform to discuss
this need ahead of the next World Congress," Mei Lee told the Daily
In Sri Lanka Girl Guides movement is becoming larger. The Education
Ministry has given its utmost support towards forming Girl Guides groups
in schools. A set of hard working volunteers continue to train more and
more students. "Discipline is one of the key aspects of Girl Guides'
In a society where discipline is a diminishing character, programs
such as Girl Guides are very important," Rodrigo said.
Girl Guides activities also help students to look at their own
personal and professional outlook in a different way. Being a girl guide
means a lot for one's own life, she added.
Through this programme, we have allowed the children to come out with
their own problems, issues so that they can overcome their psychological
and mental issues as well, Rodrigo said.
However, she lamented that the current number of volunteer leaders is
not sufficient enough to expand its activities to benefit more school
children. "We need adult volunteers. Those who are interested in our
work, especially those who have been girl guides in school, could join
us to support this endeavour," she said.
To host the regional event, the SLGGA needs at least one million
rupees going by the initial budget. As the first step, the organisation
will hold a drumming and dancing event. They also expect a grant from
the Government and also seek support from the private sector.
To look into the issues with regard to the regional conference, SLGGA
have appointed a working committee and several sub committees.
All the members are in these committees are former girl guides who
are currently holding reputed positions in various organisations. The
committees meet once a month to organise pre-conference events.
"We have a lot of short-term projects for which we need volunteers.
We would like to invite everybody to join us," the President said.
As far as the world body is concerned, they support Sri Lanka by way
of offering training programs, scholarships and grants.
During the tsunami, the international members helped the affected
families in numerous ways. Currently they have undertaken a program to
foster a large number of children, affected by the tsunami.