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Stop the violence

We can save our Planet

Address by Ruth Parris

Chief Commissioner — Barbados

Over the past year we heard of many instances of abuse that were mind boggling, but the one we in Barbados, we would have difficulty relating to, is a child fighting for her right to an education – UN millennium Development Goal Number 2, which states that a child should be entitled to an education at least to the primary school age.

In this small island of Barbados for generations we have been privileged to be educated, no matter if we are male or female and with Independence came free education. It was the thinking of the Government at the time, that education was the key to continuous development of a country.

When we gain knowledge we are able to make suggestion, agitate for change and implement change for the good of ourselves and our community.

In guiding, the approach we take to education is that the girls learn by doing and the adults enable them, to develop to their fullest potential.

With a Motto of: “Be Prepared”

A Promise: “That I will do my best

To do my duty to God

To serve the Queen and my country

To help other people and to keep the guide law”

A Law which is made up of ten parts, and is very relevant to the theme of our thanksgiving service today “Stop the Violence — We can save our Planet”

1. A Guide is loyal and can be trusted

This section of the law encourages us to be reliable, dependable, trustworthy and dedicated to family, friends, our nation and causes that we feel strongly about.

2. A Guide is helpful

We should always be willing to lend a hand, be cooperative, caring and supportive. If we buy into this way of thinking, selfishness and jealousy would be a thing of the past and our focus would be on the well being of others and bullying would “go out of the window.”

3. A Guide is polite and considerate

With these qualities being disrespectful, abusive and inconsiderate would not be part of our character. We would always be on our best behavior and not think twice about assisting someone.

4. A Guide is friendly and a sister to all guides

We should not be associated with harassment, maltreatment, singling out of persons, hounding and discrimination. These are some of the characteristics of abuse. Instead, we should report and speak out about such actions.

5. A Guide is kind to animals and respects all living things

This is probably one of the hardest sections to embrace, as we are all guilty of killing some bug or inset, but on the brighter side, when we care for animals we get in touch with our gentler side and the love flows.

Some of that love may even spill over to the environment where we are to ensure that we do not contribute to the destruction of our gullies, coral reefs, endangered species etc.

6. A Guide is obedient

Here is where we are put to the test especially with our peers. Sometimes being obedient means that we do not fit as a crowd favorite, but it shows that we are an independent, respectful, courteous, cooperative and will usually make the right decision.

7. A Guide has courage and is cheerful in all difficulties

Boldness, daring and the nerve to make a difference is not the forte of many people. Yet, as members of the Guide Association we promise to be courageous and cheerful in difficulties. Some might disagree, but for me, this is where we are being asked to rely on a higher power to give us the strength and guidance, to get through a difficult situation.

8. A Guide makes good use of her time

Try not to procrastinate! Everything changes in a split second! An opportunity lost can never be regained! These are everyday saying that hold great truth in terms of life experiences and advocating for a cause. Instead of sitting around waiting for someone else to do it, we should get on with the job at hand, always remembering to include others.

9. A Guide takes care of her own possessions and those of others

Become our brothers/sisters keeper. Hold them accountable for the things they do and extend a helping hand to them whenever possible.

10. A Guide is self controlled in all she thinks, says and does

Learn to be assertive and not obnoxious. Always remember “Speaking without thinking is like shooting without aim”.

When making a point we should take time to observe our audience, organize our thoughts and then deliver our point.

If angry, take a few deep breaths and then state your case.

The Stop the Violence Campaign was launched at the 34th World Conference of WAGGGS in July 2011, we thought it was time to speak out, as our members worldwide were experiencing some form of abuse, whether the inability not to obtain an education because you are a female, femicide, forced marriage, forced prostitution and pornography, Human Trafficking, incest, psychological and physical abuse to name a few.

We have been a voice at the UN for the past 60 years mainly in areas relating to women and child issues. With the UN’s assistance the African Region was able to develop an HIV AIDS curriculum which is still being used within their schools and by members internationally. In collaboration with the FAO we developed a child friendly comic book which addresses food and agriculture.

During the last two years our advocacy focus at the UN has been Climate Change for which an age appropriate syllabus has been developed and the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Every year members of the worldwide association are encouraged to participate in the 16 Days of Activism against gender violence and to educate the young ones in our care about this social issue, which is on the increase, especially in the areas of human trafficking, pornography and emotional abuse.

Advocacy is nothing new to us, as we have been advocating since 1910 when Guiding started. A group of young women decided they wanted to become a part of the Scout movement and went to Lord Baden-Powel to state their case and the rest is history.

As we come to the end of this year’s 16 days I encourage those who have not signed on to our campaign to please do so and follow through with the pledge you have made and remember to ALWAYS look for the signs, make the necessary reports and advocate to “Stop the Violence”.

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