Julie Bentley, former head of Family Planning Association, becomes leader of Girl Guides


'We're not all itchy brown uniforms, sewing and baking… we're the ultimate feminists!' Abortion rights and sexual health boss becomes new head of Girl Guides
Julie Bentley, 43, is former head of the Family Planning AssociationFormer Girl Guides include Cat Deeley, Carol Vorderman, Zoe Ball and Emma Thompson

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UPDATED:

14:22 GMT, 15 November 2012

Julie Bentley: 'Girls today face real and unique challenges as they grow up - I want our programme to continue responding to those challenges'

Julie Bentley: 'Girls today face real and unique challenges as they grow up – I want our programme to continue responding to those challenges'

The former head of the Family Planning Association has become the new head of the Girl Guides.

Julie Bentley, 43, who campaigns for abortion rights and greater access to contraception, says her new appointment is a natural extension of her last job, describing the Guides as 'the ultimate feminist organisation'.

Speaking to The Times, the new chief executive Ms Bentley said she doesn't feel her new appointment is at odds with her previous sexual health post, and that sexual health is actually covered extensively by the Guides already.

She said: 'I have worked in a wide range of settings and have a broad insight into what affects girls. I don't think any of this is at odds with the Girl Guides, In fact I believe the Guides is the ultimate feminist organisation.'

Ms Bentley says she hopes to boost the confidence of young girls through the organisation, and to help the public understand what the Guides is all about these days.

She said: 'It is not about itchy brown uniforms and sewing and baking. It is a modern, contemporary vibrant organisation.'

Ms
Bentley explained that the greatest challenge young girls face is being
'pigeon-holed' by society.

In her new role she hopes that as the head of the Guides she can
encourage young women to steer clear of being influenced by the
pressures of celebrity culture and stereotyping based on appearance.

She
said: 'I want to help young women understand that all too often they
will be presented with stereotypes of what a successful woman is, and
it will be largely defined around their physical appearance.

Brownies: Girls aged seven to 10 who join the Girl Guides are called Brownies

Confidence: Julie Bentley hopes to encourage young girls to become confident women

Confidence: Julie Bentley hopes to encourage young girls to become confident, self-assured women

'The
celebrity culture makes them feel under pressure to look a certain way
[…but] confidence, self-esteem and inner belief is going to determine
what they do with their lives, not looking nice.'

Back in the day: A Brownie in 1970s England

Back in the day: A Brownie in 1970s England

She said: 'It is not about itchy brown uniforms and sewing and baking. It is a modern, contemporary vibrant organisation.'

Ms Bentley explained that the
greatest challenge young girls face is being 'pigeon-holed', and she
hopes that as the head of the Guides she can encourage young women to
steer clear of being influenced by the pressures of celebrity culture
and stereotyping based on appearance.

She
said: 'I want to help young women understand that all too often they
will be presented with stereotypes of what a successful woman is, and
it will be largely defined around their physical appearance.

'The
celebrity culture makes them feel under pressure to look a certain way
[…but] confidence, self-esteem and inner belief is going to determine
what they do with their lives, not looking nice.'

Girlguiding UK is the UK's largest
voluntary organisation for girls and young women, with over 500,000 members
and recognised volunteers.

Over a third of girls and young women
aged
7 to 21 in the UK are involved in guiding, or have been in the past.
Former Guides include Cat Deeley, Carol Vorderman, Zoe Ball and Emma
Thompson.

Mrs Bentley was previously the Chief Executive of
the Family Planning Association and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, and is a
Trustee of Shelter and Get Connected.

The way we were: English Girl Guides in Hertfordshire in 1950

The way we were: English Girl Guides in Hertfordshire in 1950

She said: 'I am incredibly proud to be joining an organisation
dedicated to supporting girls become confident, happy, successful
people who realize their ambitions and contribute positively to the
world around them.

DID YOU KNOWOne in five girls think women are treated less fairly by employersA fifth worry their career chances are worse than their mothers Two thirds believe woman are still judged more on looks than abilityOne-in-three would consider surgery to change their appearance

'As Guiding looks forward to its next 100 years, I
would like that opportunity to be available to even more girls – from an
even wider range of backgrounds and communities.

'Girls today face real and unique challenges as they grow up. I want our
programme to continue responding to those challenges, so that we always
offer girls what they really need.

'And I want us to give girls an even
louder voice on the issues that matter to them now – so they can help
build a society they want to live in. One where they truly have the
chance to be everything they can be.'

Chief Guide Gill Slocombe said: 'This is a pivotal moment for Girlguiding UK as we look forward to our next 100 years. We are delighted to welcome Julie who brings such broad third-sector experience and a strong commitment to helping young people. We look forward to all of our membership benefitting from her contribution as we enter this exciting new era.”

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson

Zoe Ball

Zoe Ball

Carol Vorderman

Carol Vorderman

FUN FACTS ABOUT GIRL GUIDES
Former Girl Guide: TV presenter Cat Deeley

Former Girl Guide: TV presenter Cat Deeley

Girlguiding UK is the largest youth organisation for girls in the UK todayGirlguiding UK has half a million young members aged four to 25Around a quarter of all eight-year-old girls in the UK are BrowniesOne in ten of all 11-year-old girls in the UK are GuidesMembers today can take part in a wide range of activities from abseiling to party planning and from circus skills to survivalGirlguiding UK is a founder member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, the largest youth organisation for girls in the world with more than ten million members in 144 countriesCelebrity former members include Cat Deeley, Glenda Jackson, Lorraine Kelly, Mo Mowlan, Anita Roddick, Helen Sharman (the first British woman in space), Tanni Grey-Thompson, Zoe Ball, Emma Thompson, Gail Porter, Carole Vorderman, Carol Smillie, Davina McCall and Cherie Booth.Girl Guides run Rainbows (5–7 years), Brownies (7–10 years), Guides (10–14 years) and Senior Section (14–25 years)