34th World Conference – Day 4 (Thursday 14th July 2011

Day 4 of the World Conference has been very eventful. The highlight has been the voting for the 6 new members of the World Board, and 2 substitute members. The following candidates were elected:
• Jill Zelmanovits (Canada)
• Teruko Wada (Japan)
• Shaleeka Abeygunasekera (Sri Lanka)
• Fiona Hartnett (New Zealand)
• Nicola Grinstead (UK)
• Michelle February (South Africa)
• Niumaath Shafeeg (Maldives, Substitute 1)
• Florence Chidiogo Enemuo (Nigeria, Substitute 2)

The new Chair of the World Board is Nadine El Achy from Lebanon, and the new Deputy Chair is Sapreet Saluja from the USA. We know that they will continue to lead WAGGGS into the future.

The second keynote speech of the Conference was delivered by Catherine Stihler, the only female Scottish Member of European Parliament. A former girl guide, she spoke about women and decision-making and how women have every right to be involved; that they need to be part of the process as the decisions made will affect their future. She challenged those present to never give up on others and to think about what we can do to make a change, to make a difference to improve the lives of others.

The Hong Kong Girl Guides Association presented their bid to host the 35th World Conference in 2014. Delegates will vote on this bid tomorrow. The World Board conducted a question and answer session on the proposed Strategic Plan 2012-2014. It was great to hear from the Board Members first hand their responses to the queries that MOs had.

There was some ‘free time’ in the afternoon, where we all trundled off to different meetings. Helen attended the International Commissioners meeting, Tash represented Australia at a gathering of GAT (Global Action Theme) Champions, and Ally and Renée attended an information session on the brand new WAGGGS Global Advocacy Campaign, which was launched late this afternoon. The Global Advocacy Campaign is to End Violence Against Girls, whether it be trafficking, abuse, bullying, child marriage etc. Representatives from some of WAGGGS’ key partnerships, with UNWomen, Plan International, Save the Children and UPS Foundation were present as we were lead in a ‘firework’ to start the conversation. Will you join us in moving from a whisper to a shout??

In the evening we celebrated the Four World Centres at a Fiesta. Ally and Tash went skiing in Switzerland, you could receive a henna tattoo in India, have your photo taken with the royal couple Prince William and Katherine, whack a piñata in Mexico, and suggest a name for the proposed fifth World Centre in Africa. We also spent some time celebrating with New Zealand, Canada and the UK and their successful candidates to the World Board.

Friday promises to be a huge day, with voting occurring on the majority of proposed motions. Australia will be in the spotlight again, showcasing the amazing work that our members are doing to achieve the MDGs. It will end with the Closing Ceremony, when this amazing week will come to a close and we can all get some much deserved sleep.

Allison Hooper

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