Learning to Lead Out Loud at Juliette Low Seminar

Irish Girl Guides members today (13 November 2019) welcomed 23 Girl Guide Leaders from 18 countries across the globe to the Juliette Low Seminar (JLS) Irish Hub at Gormanston Park, Co Meath.

This is the first time for us to host the international week-long leadership training for young Guide Leaders that is organised by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) every three years.

The seminar has taken place in many different countries since it was first held in Our Chalet Guiding World Centre in Switzerland in 1932 but this is the first time for it to come to Ireland. It is also the first time for it to take place in more than one location as there are 18 hubs around the world running simultaneously with a total of 500+ young women taking part and 150 facilitators and volunteers.

The Guide Leaders attending the Irish hub have travelled from as far away as Lebanon, Malawi, Ghana, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, USA and Barbados as well as other parts of Europe, including Spain, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Finland and the Ukraine.

Meanwhile, 11 IGG members have packed their suitcases and have headed off to hubs across the world, including Poland, Mexico, the USA, Nigeria, Oman and Madagascar.

The 500+ Guide Leaders will be following the same Lead Out Loud programme in each hub, which will see them develop their leadership skills and learn how to tackle gender barriers to leadership so that they can take the lead and bring about change in their communities.

Each participant will be asked to share their learnings with 100+ younger Girl Guides on their return home. By doing this over the next two years, it is expected that 100,000 girls and young women throughout the world will be encouraged and empowered to take on leadership roles in their communities and, in so doing, to have a significant positive impact on society.

Before heading off to facilitate the JLS hub in New York, IGG International Commissioner Jenna Goodwin said: “It is a privilege for Irish Girl Guides to have been selected as one of the 18 hubs hosting the Juliette Low Seminar. We are excited to welcome Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world to Ireland and to host this seminar for them. In addition to this, we would like to wish our 11 members travelling to other hubs around the world the very best of luck. It will be a fantastic experience to be part of this massive global leadership event.

“We believe there is unlimited potential in girls and young women,” continued Jenna. “We encourage our members from age five-plus to develop, learn, speak out, demand change and take on leadership roles. We create future leaders by helping girls and young women realise their potential through innovative learning and leadership opportunities and by giving them the skills and opportunities to develop their leadership skills.”

Lorna Finnegan, Irish Hub Team Lead, said it was a unique opportunity for IGG to be involved in a historic event that would be shared with hundreds of young women globally. “It allows us to provide more international opportunities for more young women to develop their leadership potential and grow in confidence,” she said. “And we all know what confident young women can achieve when they put their minds to it!

“The young women who will attend this event in Ireland and abroad will return to their own communities to work on a self-directed project that will impact the lives of many more girls and young women in their local areas,” she added. “The possibilities stemming from the ripple effect of this event are immeasurable.”

Although the 500+ participants will follow a broadly similar programme no matter which hub they attend, they will all have an opportunity to experience local cuisine and culture as well. Guides from Co Meath will introduce those attending the Irish hub to Irish dancing. Participants will also visit Newgrange, the V&W Recycling Centre in Drogheda and Sonairte National Ecology Centre where they will lend a hand with weeding and other gardening tasks.

They will also hear three motivational speakers during an Empowerment Evening on Sunday when the speakers will be children’s rights advocate, former Senator and former IGG Chief Commissioner Jillian van Turnhout, award-winning STEM communicator and IGG Ambassador Dr Niamh Shaw and Ciara-Beth Griffin, an education rights’ activist and inspirational young Guide Leader from Galway who designed the Mi Contact app to help children with autism improve their eye contact skills.

Aisling Claffey, IGG Assistant International Commissioner who is one of the facilitators at the Irish hub, said she was looking forward to welcoming a diverse group of Guide Leaders to Ireland. “It is a fantastic opportunity to be able to facilitate alongside such a motivated, enthusiastic and passionate group of people,” she said. “We all attended a training in Uganda last year to prepare and we have been working together for months now and can’t wait to see our plans and sessions happen.”

Elizabeth Lynch, IGG’s North East Regional Commissioner and a Guide Leader in Kells and Mosney, is also be facilitating the Irish hub. She said: “I’m really excited to be part of the Juliette Low Seminar here in Ireland. I’m delighted to be sharing the theme of Lead Out Loud with participants from all around the world. It’s fantastic to think that they will go back to their countries ready to share the WAGGGS goal of empowering young girls and women to speak out in their communities and become change-makers.”