The Girl Scouts of America turned 100 years old today, as it vowed to continue on its mission to provide girls with life and leadership experience.
"Our 100th anniversary is our moment in time to bring the nation together to make a difference in the lives of girls," Girl Scouts chief executive Anna Maria Chavez said in a statement, the Los Angeles Times reported. "Girls represent an incredible resource for our country and Girl Scouts has always provided them a platform for success, and during our centennial we want everyone — men and women alike — to join us in making sure that every girl achieves her full leadership potential."
The organization was founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low, who took her first bold step when she filed for divorce from her upper-class British husband William Mackay Low, Slate reported.
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Gordon, who suffered from near-deafness, went on to live an independent life that was uncommon for women in her generation, traveling alone and forging friendships with with men that didn’t result in marriage, including a close friendship with the British founder of the Boy Scouts, Sir Robert Baden-Powell, according to Slate.
Gordon decided to create a girl’s organization of her own in the United States, and gathered her first 18 girl-troup in Savannah, Georgia on March 12, 1912.
The girls were from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds; some came from well-to-do Savannah families, and several were from the Female Orphan Asylum and Congregation Mickve Israel. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called Girl Scouts "a force for desegregation," according to scouting history, the Times reported.
The movement spread to every corner of America and overseas to more than 90 countries, according to Girl Scouts USA CEO Anna Maria Chavez' Huffington Post blog. Today, the organization has 3.2 million members. 59 million women, or one in every two American women, have been involved in Girl Scouting at some point in their lives.
Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Lucille Ball all sported the green and white berets and sashes, NPR reported.
The organization has launched a new fundraising and advocacy mission, ToGetHerThere, which boasts the ambitious goal of achieving "the equal representation of women in leadership positions in all sectors and levels of society" within one generation, according to the Times.
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It also strives to encourage girls to fill "critical talent gaps" in areas such as finance, science, technology, and the environment, the Times reported.
"Sometimes when I speak to groups or I'm interviewed by a journalist, I ask them to imagine their communities without Girl Scouts — to imagine the thousands of food drives and clothing and toy collections that would never take place if not for Girl Scouts," Chavez said. "I ask them to imagine the hundreds of thousands of hours spent on projects to plant trees, adopt pets and build gardens — projects that would never happen if not for Girl Scouts."
"And most terrifying of all," Chavez continues, "I ask them to imagine what it would be like without the cookies."
...Thin Mints are the best-sellers, according to The Washington Post.
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