In 2021, Scouts Aotearoa, with support from Point, initiated an innovative project to address harmful gender norms within the movement. The impetus for this project was the results of an internal evaluation that identified sexism as a significant contributor to young women not joining Scouts or, if they do join, leaving the movement.
A comprehensive literature review was completed to support the project. The review found that while there was much evidence about the harmful impact of traditional gender norms, there was little published on how to engage boys in gender equity and how youth organisations might become more welcoming and inclusive to all genders.
A co-design process, underpinned by a strong developmental evaluation approach, was used with Scout Groups to develop and test out different interventions and conditions with the aim of learning what might work to grow these six healthy norms. The project generated a raft of learnings that provide a valuable contribution to the evidence base.
A fundamental finding was that even very small changes in practice, such as asking young people how they feel at the beginning and end of each night, naming feelings when young people are frustrated or encouraging the showing of kindness, can create positive outcomes for young people, Kaiārahi/Leaders and have a significant impact on the culture of Scout Groups. The outcomes are promising and are continually being monitored in an evaluation framework.
It is hoped that by documenting this project, and sharing the learnings, Scouts Aotearoa can support other organisations in their journey to address sexism and discrimination, and create a healthier environment in which all young people can thrive.