Happy World Thinking Day! The theme for 2017 is “Grow” and I thought it might be a good idea to reflect on how our Movement has grown over the years. We sometimes get discouraged when we struggle to find Guiders or when youth numbers dwindle – but as long as there are dedicated people (you) who not only love Guiding, but who also recognize the value of what we do, Girl Guiding & Girl Scouting will continue to thrive.
WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) was formed in 1928 at the 5th World Conference (Parad, Hungary), with 26 Founding Members – Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, India, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and Yugoslavia.
In 1930 at the 6th World Conference (Foxlease, UK) Brazil and Egypt joined the family! Unfortunately, contact was lost with Liberia, and their Membership was cancelled in 1931.
The 7th World Conference (Bucze, Poland) in 1932 saw Ireland added to the list, and the first Tenderfoot Members – Austria and China. Contact had been lost with Yugoslavia, and their Memberships was cancelled. Greece, Portugal and Romania all became Tenderfoot Members in 1933.
Out Chalet hosted the 8th World Conference in 1934, where a special membership category was created for the Armenian Eclaireuses in France, who had been exiled from their homeland.
Following the end of World War II, WAGGGS Members gathered in Evian, France for the 11th World Conference in 1946. Haiti, Italy, the Philippines and Costa Rica were welcomed as Tenderfoot Members, but we sadly said good-bye to a number of countries where Guiding was now banned or the organization dissolved: Austria, China, Estonia, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal and Roumania. Contact had also been lost with Guiding in Iceland.
The 12th World Conference, held in 1948 in Cooperstown, NY, USA was jointly hosted by Canada, the United States, and Brazil. Pakistan, Italy, the Philippines and Greece were welcomed as Full Members, and Mexico and Liechtenstein as Tenderfoot Members. Sadly, Guiding was now banned in Hungary. Guiding would also be banned in Poland and Czechoslovakia by 1949.
Haiti and Sri Lanka became Full Members at the 13th World Conference (Oxford, UK) in 1950. Germany was also welcomed as an Tenderfoot Member.
In 1952 at the 14th World Conference (Dombas, Norway), Japan was welcomed back as an Tenderfoot Member, along with Panama, while Liechtenstein gained Full Membership.
The 15th World Conference (Zeist, Netherlands) in 1954 saw the reinstatement of Iceland as a Full Member, as well as the addition of Germany as a Full Member and Colombia and Lebanon as Tenderfoot Members.
The 16th World Conference (Petropolis, Brazil) of 1957 was the first to be held in South America. Mexico and Colombia became Full Members, Austria was reinstated as a Tenderfoot Member, and Chile, Israel, Sudan, Guatemala, South Korea, Cuba and Congo (Brazzaville) were new Tenderfoot Members. Argentina and Myanmar were added as Tenderfoot Members in 1958, and Spain in 1959.
Japan was reinstated as a Full Member at the 17th World Conference (Athens, Greece) in 1960. El Salvador, Malaysia, Peru, Nigeria, Ghana, Monaco and Venezuela were added as Tenderfoot Members. Cyprus became a Tenderfoot Member in 1962.
Guiding continued to grow with Monaco, Argentina, Peru, Israel, Lebanon and South Korea becoming Full Members at the 18th World Conference in Nyborg, Denmark in 1963. Congo (Kinshasa), Thailand, Togo, Madagascar, Tanzania, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, Portugal, Taiwan, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Iran, Ivory Coast, Jordan and Jamaica all gained Tenderfoot Member status. Sadly, Guiding in Congo (Brazzaville) was banned in 1963 and the Association in Myanmar was dissolved in 1964.
At the 19th World Conference, held in Tokyo, Japan in 1966, Jamaica, Panama, Malaysia, Taiwan, Venezuela and Nigeria became Full Members. Bolivia, Singapore, Malta, Ecuador, the Gambia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Zambia, Vietnam and Ethiopia were all admitted as Associate Members, the new name for Tenderfoot Member countries. Liberia was also welcomed back as an Associate Member.
Otaniemi, Finland hosted the 20th World Conference in 1969. Austria, Trinidad & Tobago, Ghana, Iran, Tanzania, Spain, Guatemala and Kuwait were welcomed as Full Members, and Zimbabwe, Barbados, Guyana, Botswana, Swaziland, Kuwait and the Dominican Republic became Associate Members. Unfortunately, Guiding was banned in Cuba about this time.
Canada hosted it’s first World Conference (the 21st), in Toronto, Ontario in 1972. Zimbabwe, Singapore, Barbados, Malta, Sierra Leone, Thailand and Kuwait became Full Members, while Burundi, Surinam, Turkey, Cameroon and Burkina Faso were welcomed as Associate Members.
The 22nd World Conference (Sussex, UK) of 1975 welcomed Portugal, Kenya, Guyana, Sudan and El Salvador as Full Members. Liberia was also reinstated as a Full Member. Indonesia, the Bahamas, and Mauritius were new Associate Members. Guiding in Vietnam ceased to exist about this time.
Tehran, Iran hosted the 23rd World Conference in 1978, the following year Guiding in Iran would be banned. New Full Members were Jordan, the Bahamas, Paraguay, Zambia, Bolivia and Cyprus. Associate Membership joining were Hong Kong, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Nepal.
In 1981, at the 24th World Conference (Orleans, France), we welcomed Chile, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Mauritius, Libya, the Gambia, and the Netherlands Antilles as Full Members, and Honduras, Fiji, Senegal, Rwanda, Bahrain, and Nicaragua as Associate Members.
The 25th World Conference was held in 1984 in Tarrytown, NY, USA. Bahrain, Uganda, Ecuador, Botswana and Nepal became Full Members, while St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda, and United Arab Emirates joined our family as Associate Members. About this time, Guiding in Ethiopia ceased to exist.
The first World Conference (the 26th) to be held in Africa was held in Njoro, Kenya in 1987. Botswana, Indonesia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Turkey and Madagascar gained Full Membership, while Belize, Brunei Darussalam, Dominica, Oman, the Solomon Islands, and Tonga became Associate Members.
At the 27th World Conference (Singapore) in 1990, the Gambia, Lesotho, the Dominican Republic, and the United Arab Emirates all became Full Members. Kiribati, Grenada, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Yemen became Associate Members, and Czechoslovakia was readmitted to Associate Membership.
The 1993 World Conference (the 28th) in Nyborg, Denmark saw Hugary, Latvia and Estonia readmitted as Associate Members, along with Aruba, the Cook Islands, Namibia, Romania, San Marino, and St. Kitts & Nevis.
Canada’s second World Conference (the 29th) was held in 1996 in Wolfeville, Nova Scotia. We welcomed the Czech Republic, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Ivory Coast, Belize, Brunei Darussalam, Oman and Yemen as Full Members. Poland and Congo (Brazzaville) were readmitted as Associate Members, along with new members Belarus, the Maldives, Mauritania, Samoa and Slovenia.
Dublin, Ireland hosted the 30th World Conference in 1990, with Latvia and Poland being reinstated as Full Members, along with Namibia, Slovenia, St. Lucia and Tunisia. Guinea, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine were admitted as Associate Members.
The 31st World Conference was held in 2002 in Manila, Philippines. Belarus, Antigua & Barbuda, Burkina Faso, Honduras, Rwanda and Senegal were new Full Members, and Estonia was reinstated. Malawi, Chad, Qatar, Armenia and Cambodia became Associate Members. Sadly, we said good-bye to Indonesia as their Association resigned in favour of membership in WOSM.
The first World Conference (the 32nd) to be held in the Arab Region was in 2005 in Amman, Jordan. Benin, the Central African Republic, Qatar, Romania and Togo became Full Members and Mongolia was admitted as an Associate Member. Tuvalu voluntarily resigned their membership in 2006 after struggling to maintain a viable organiation.
The 2008 World Conference (the 33rd) was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. Burundi, Chad, Dominica, Malawi and Russia became Full Members, while Hungary was reinstated to Full Membership. Congo (Kinshasa) and Lithuania were readmitted as Associate Members, and Syria joined the world Guiding family. Unfortunately, the memberships of Samoa and Vanuatu were both cancelled after unsuccessful attempts to reengage Guiding in these countries.
The 34th World Conference was held in 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and saw the reinstatement of Congo (Brazzaville) and Congo (Kinshasa) to Full Membership, along with Cambodia, Grenada, San Marino and Swaziland.
At the most recent World Conference (the 35th), held in 2014 in Hong Kong, Myanmar became the newest Associate Member of WAGGGS. At the same event, membership for Uruguay was cancelled.
From our humble beginnings, with just 26 member countries, WAGGGS had grown to include 10 million members in 146 countries around the world. The 36th World Conference will be held in September 2017 in Delhi, India. Who will join our worldwide family this year?