Christian charity condemns girl guiding partnership with Army

By agency reporter
September 11, 2018

Christian charity the Fellowship of Reconciliation has joined calls for Girlguiding to end their partnership with the British Army.

The joint venture, which sees the Army sponsoring a Lead skills builder section of the Girlguiding programme, has been condemned by some of its own members and by peace and human rights groups.  

‘We support the main goal of the partnership, giving Girl Guides the skills to be leaders”, said Oliver Robertson from the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR). “But the Army doesn’t have a monopoly on these skills, so it shouldn’t have a monopoly on delivering them. The Armed Forces model of leadership, involving strict hierarchies and unquestioning obedience, is entirely out of synch with most of the leadership situations people find themselves in.”

A petition calling for the partnership to be scrapped has been started by Guides volunteer Pippa Gardner. It states that the Army tie-up was introduced without consultation, and is at odds with the peace-oriented focus of Girlguiding internationally and the ban on Guides participating in war games. 

“The Girlguiding webpage on partnerships explicitly talks about how partnering ‘can introduce your organisation and brand to our half a million members’, so this is clearly not an altruistic step by the Army”, said Oliver Robertson. “We don’t think girls as young as five (four in Northern Ireland) should be uncritically exposed to the Army ‘brand’.

“This is another example of the creeping militarisation of society. We think this is part of wider efforts to normalise the military and increase recruitment in the medium-term, and Girlguiding is perhaps unwittingly facilitating this.

“On their website, the Girl Guides state that the Army provides ‘a safe and secure environment for everyone to live and prosper’, but the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan would surely have something to say about that. We reject the idea that we should maintain security at home by doing violence abroad."

* The partnership is described on the Girlguiding website here

* A petition against the partnership, started by former Guide Pippa Gardner, is here

* The Fellowship of Reconciliation is an ecumenical peace charity, comprised of people who commit themselves to active nonviolence as a way of life and as a means of personal, social, economic and political transformation. It was founded in 1914.



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