Girls leading the way

As girls face a new set of challenges in the 21st century, Girlguiding, the UK’s leading organisation for girls and young women, carried out its biggest programme change ever.

Richard Marshall, Red Stone

Co-Founder & Strategy Director


Thinking about the pressing issues of today, such as global warming and environmental degradation, it’s not politicians or even scientists who are setting the agenda but young women and girls. Look at Greta Thunberg, the charismatic force behind the school strike for climate, and the sisters Ella and Caitlin McEwan, whose petition to stop fast food chains dishing out plastic toys has attracted 400,000 signatures.

A determination to stand up and throw down a challenge to governments and corporations shows that equality for different voices has come a long way, not just for girls but for all young people, who have the greatest stake in these issues.

It’s a hugely positive momentum, but how do we maintain it?

The key is to continue to ensure that girls learn the skills and get the opportunities to express themselves on these issues and to become confident and active members of society.

Part of this is encouraging girls to pursue technical education and work. There is traction here; A level entry to science, technical, engineering and mathematics subjects is up 6.9% on last year according to a Women's Business Council 2018 report. The gender pay gap is closing as well, as revealed by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission but all sorts of lingering inequalities still need to be confronted.

Role models are another powerful force. Young girls look up to older girls and women, and there is value in this ‘ageing up’. It’s not about forcing girls to grow up quicker, but giving a road map, to see what might be achieved.

The route to adulthood can be bumpy, with lots of distractions. But the demands on girls’ time and attention need not compete with personal growth. Instead, we need ways to channel them both into areas that nurture lifelong interests, promote fulfilling work and build a powerful sense of self-worth, in other words, develop the idea of ‘personal brand’, so girls can continue to help to change the world for the better.

So, what small steps can we take to capture and keep girls’ interest and focus it for the future? What simple strategies can we deploy to inspire girls to fulfil their boundless potential?

Girl Guides badges.jpg

Girlguiding badge programme

As girls face a new set of challenges in the 21st century, Girlguiding, the UK’s leading organisation for girls and young women, carried out its biggest programme change ever.

A large part of the very personal and emotional bond many Guides have with their experiences is represented in the badges they have so much fun acquiring. Sewn onto blankets and jumpers, they represent cherished memories and become treasured keepsakes.

When we were asked to redesign all 187 badges and associated handbooks, we knew this was a one-off opportunity to bring these iconic badges bang up-to-date and reflect the new contemporary subject matters in a way that visually resonated with our young audience.

To find out more, we knew it was important to talk to the girls and young women themselves, to discover first-hand their thoughts and opinions and gain insights into how the badges could be relevant to them. We spoke with over 550 members from the ‘sections’: Rainbows (age 5–7), Brownies (7–10), Guides (10–14) and Rangers (14–18) and almost 200 non-members to understand how we could create an exciting new style for the badges and reflect the real differences each age range expressed.

One of the big take-outs was the validation of the ageing-up concept, encouraging each group to aspire to joining the next section. The interest badges take on career-orientated subjects (Construction, Aviation, Entrepreneur), Social concerns (Women’s Rights, Protesting, Zero waste) and updated activities (Vlogging, Digital design and Mixology).

It was a rare opportunity to reflect the contemporary nature of Girlguiding activities but to also ensure that everything was fun, engaging and accessible to #EveryGirl.

Our work for Girlguiding has won an iF Design Award 2019, a Gold in the IDA Design Awards 2018. We were shortlisted for a Design Week Award and longlisted for the Dezeen Awards 2019 and Good Design Awards 2019 in Japan.

Red Stone, London
Girl Guides space.jpg
Girl Guides storyteller.jpg
Guest Author

Richard Marshall, Red Stone

Co-Founder & Strategy Director,


Richard is Co-founder and Strategy Director at Red Stone, an award-winning creative agency based in East London. Red Stone works with leading UK and international organisations, transforming the way they engage with their audiences.

Related Tags

Gen Z