Girl Guides' camp tackles issues like gender equality, body image

Brownie Kwee Yi Xuan (left) and Girl Guide Fellah Citra Feroz Muhamad at the opening of the camp. ST PHOTO: EUGENE GOH

SINGAPORE - The Girl Guides International Camp kicked off on Wednesday (June 1) at the Guide House in Bishan, offering activities for girls and women aged eight to 80 to engage in issues such as gender equality, body image and climate change.

Such topics resonate with 15-year-old Girl Guide Fellah Citra Feroz Muhamad.

Fellah, a student at Crescent Girls' School, said: "Equality to me means to live and discover who you are without being affected or restricted by things like your gender.

"It's important for us to look at where we are in society from time to time so that we can move forward and ensure that everybody is equal."

The inaugural hybrid camp involves participants from 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, India and Singapore, and will run from June 1 to 4.

Those based overseas will engage in activities in their own countries and the sessions will either be live-streamed or pre-recorded, before being shown at the camp.

Some of the activities include discussions on "unconscious bias" in gender, yoga sessions and plogging, where the Girl Guides pick up litter while jogging at public parks.

At the launch of the camp on Wednesday, President Halimah Yacob, who was the guest of honour, announced the opening of a new water obstacle course at the Guides' Camp Christine in Jalan Bahtera.

In her speech, she reiterated the need for continued commitment in the quest for gender equality.

Said President Halimah: "While Singaporean women have made considerable progress in the past decades, more needs to be done for Singapore to become a fairer and inclusive society...

"Guiding programmes are intentionally designed to be relevant for meeting the needs of girls and opening up new horizons and possibilities for them.

"An example is Girl Guide Singapore's efforts to nurture girls' interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem)... we benefit from having equal representation of women in these fields that will shape our future world."

Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Low Yen Ling stressed the importance of the Girl Guides in instilling confidence in young girls.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event on Wednesday, Ms Low, a former Girl Guide, said: "Feeling represented is important for girls growing up, and helps them develop into confident leaders and members of society.

"As we work towards a future where men and women partner as equals to achieve our goals, the Girl Guides will be significant in achieving that goal."

President Halimah Yacob and Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Low Yen Ling (left) speaking to Girl Guides at the Guide House in Bishan. ST PHOTO: EUGENE GOH

Madam Mas'amah Ruah, a flexi-adjunct school counsellor at Dazhong Primary School, joined the Girl Guides in 1967 at the age of 13.

She is still a Guide, and attributed her long-lasting commitment to the oath she took at 13 years old to always be the best she can be.

"We are human beings first, and one innate quality we have is a sense of empathy. To lose that sense of empathy is to lose your humanity. That's why I'm still here today. This essence of humanity taught in the Girl Guides has to be passed on," said Madam Mas'amah, 68.

Kwee Yi Xuan, 11, who is currently a Brownie - Girl Guides aged seven to 12 are known as Brownies - looks forward to a long stint in the movement.

"Coming from a big school, being in Brownies gives me the chance to get closer with other girls, and we get the chance to exchange new skills with one another," said Yi Xuan, a Primary 5 pupil at Tao Nan Primary School.

Fellah added that being a Girl Guide has helped her pick up new skills.

She said: "The Girl Guides is a place where I can learn without judgment. With the skills that I continue to acquire as a Girl Guide, I hope to inspire even more change."

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