By Lidia Soto-Harmon, CEO, Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital
Go figure that a boy would think girls are better off joining Boy Scouts, rather than having their “own” leadership organization. Amir Arnold Gharbi’s opinion column in the Washington Post is precisely why girls need Girl Scouts. His ungrounded assessment that Boy Scouts creates leaders, while Girl Scouting focuses on individuals, disrespects the efforts of millions of girls and women, and falls flat on its face when you look at the facts. Eighty percent of women business owners were Girl Scouts, 70 percent of current female U.S. Senators were Girl Scouts, and every female Secretary of State was a Girl Scout.
Gharbi’s statement that Girl Scouts is separate but not equal (to Boy Scouts) is pretty presumptuous for a man whose daughters are not even Girl Scouts. Clearly, he is not familiar with the Girl Scout organization, our resources, goals or expectations for our members. Why would girls need to join Boy Scouts when they have their own organization that focuses on providing girls with opportunities to learn new skills, experience high adventure and camping, volunteer in their community, accomplish great things; all while laying a strong foundation for leadership? And here is a little history: Girl Scouts was created 101 years ago, because Boy Scouts would not accept girls in their organization.
If he valued the contributions of women, perhaps he would be aware of Girl Scouts’ Gold Award, the highest earned award in Girl Scouting. It’s recognized by our military, which offers Gold Award Girl Scouts the same advanced pay grade as it would an Eagle Scout. To earn the Gold Award, girls demonstrate leadership by evaluating the needs in their community and take action by creating projects that have lasting impact. These girls are advocating for environmental improvements, combating bullying in their schools, promoting STEM careers to students, engaging veterans and teaching children healthy behaviors.
We believe girls are better off in an environment that respects a broader definition of leadership, and where girls are the leaders and the decision makers. Girl Scouts has a long history of building girls of courage, confidence and character. Today there are 3.2 million Girl Scouts and 59 million alumnae.
This letter is in response to an opinion piece in the Washington Post and is not a statement on Boy Scouts as an organization.