National Press Club

Girl Scouts plan to lobby for investment in girls

June 14, 2016 | By Heather Forsgren Weaver | HeatherForsgrenWeaver@gmail.com

Anna Maria Chávez, chief executive of the Girl Scouts of the USA, called for greater investments in young women at a June 13 National Press Club luncheon.

Anna Maria Chávez, chief executive of the Girl Scouts of the USA, called for greater investments in young women at a June 13 National Press Club luncheon.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

Girl Scouts from around the country plan to go to Capitol Hill June 14 to advocate on behalf of investing in girls.

“People give more to animal causes today than to girl causes,” Anna Maria Chávez, chief executive of Girl Scouts of the USA, said at a June 13 National Press Club luncheon. “I have a brand new puppy …. He is a wonderful dog but he will not be the president of the United States one day, a Girl Scout will be.”

Only 7 cents of every dollar contributed to charity goes to those focusing on women and girls, Chávez said.

She leads an organization that has 59 million living alums.

A 2012 survey of women both in and out of Scouting found that Girl Scout alums achieve a higher level of education, volunteer more and have “a higher level of satisfaction around their decisions around their partnerships and their career goals, and staying at home and raising their kids,” she said.

These statistics show why it is important to invest in girls, Chávez said.

“Girls don't wait until they are 25 or 30 to do amazing things,” she said.

The Girl Scout lobbyists are likely to find a receptive audience because Chavez said that 70 percent of the women senators are Girl Scout alums and 50 percent of the women in the House of Representatives are former Girl Scouts.

The Capitol Hill visits will also celebrate the centennial of the Girl Scout Gold Award, a seven-step program for high-school girls to solve community problems.

Only 5 percent of all Girl Scouts achieve the award. One of the reasons that so few Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which Chavez said has had a variety of names in its 100-year history, is because girls typically drop out of Scouting before high school.

If they remain a Girl Scout for eight years, 10 years, “not only would they achieve the award but they would also get more skills under their belts,” Chávez said.

Staying in Girl Scouting has a positive impact on girls, Chávez said.

“What we have found by studying our Girl Scouts over the years is that the longer they are in our Girl Scout program; the impact of our program is stronger,” she said. “Actually if you look at girls, especially Latinas and African-American girls, our program actually has a higher impact than most other girls.”

The luncheon occurred one day after 49 people were killed and 53 wounded in a shooting in Orlando, Florida.

Club President Thomas Burr led luncheon attendees in a moment of silence for the victims, their families and the Orlando community, before Chávez’s speech. Chávez began her speech by offering her own thoughts.

“I am heartbroken,” she said.