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Links of Unity
(now known as Symbols of the Movement)

Links of Unity (symbols of the movement) are those symbols that link Guides throughout the world. They are the external indicators of membership in Guiding. If your Guides have a hard time remembering what the Links of Unity are, ask them how they would know another Guide if they met them in uniform at an airport. They'll see what you mean by the term.

So now that we know what they are, what are they?

The official SYmbols of the Movement are:

There are other indicators of membership in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (and of the World Organisation of Scouting Movements). These are not on the official lists of Links of Unity, but any Guide who travels overseas with Guiding will recognise these as more links of unity within the Movement. They are:

  • a scarf: most national uniforms include some sort of scarf, often a triangular one
  • a badge system: all national organisations have their own system of recognising the development of skills in its youth members
  • badge swappng tradition
  • campfire tradition
  • Taps
  • a tradition of service

World Trefoil

The Trefoil, used on the world Badge, is the unifying symbol of WAGGGS. Every part has a meaning. The golden trefoil on the bright blue background represents the sun that never sets over Guiding and Scouting; the three leaves represent the threefold Promise as originally laid-down by the Founder (and the Promise of most countries still has three parts); the base of the stalk represents the flame of the love of humanity; the vein pointing upwards through the centre of the Trefoil represents the compass needle pointing the way; and the two stars represent the Promise and Law. The current design was introduced in March 1991.

World Badge

The World Badge was adopted at the 11th World Conference in Evian, France, 1946. It may be worn by everyone who has made their Promise, girls and adults, in or out of uniform. The current design was introduced in 1991.

World Flag

The World Flag was also updated in March 1991. Before then it was simply the golden World Trefoil on a blue background. Now, in the lower, right-hand corner is a white blaze representing WAGGGS' commitment to world peace. This is crowned by three golden blocks symbolizing the threefold Promise. The World Flag is used at the World Centres, the World Bureau, WAGGGS' gatherings and by all Member Organisations.

World Thinking Day

The anniversary of the birthdays of both Robert and Olave Baden-Powell, 22nd February was chosen as the day when Girl Guides and Girl Scouts all over the world think about what it means to be a member of the largest female organisation in the world. Many units program activities that will teach them about other countries on this day, and we all raise money to help develop Guiding in those countries that need assistance.

The Motto

All Associations have a motto, most of them are something like the original one: "Be Prepared". Some Associations have different mottoes for each age level.

The Left Handshake

Members of both the Scouting and Guiding organisations shake hands with the left hand, not the right. It's a "secret" sign of membership. The story from Robert Baden-Powell, who introduced the custom, is that two tribes in Africa showed their willingness to coexist in peace by throwing down their shields, which they carried on their left arms, and greeted each other with the left, unprotected hand.

The Sign or Salute

In Australia, we use the Sign rather than the Salute. The difference is that the Sign is raised to shoulder height only, whereas the Salute goes to the head. The fingers are the same: three fingers raised while the thumb holds the little finger down. This is a reminder of the threefold Promise. When I was a Guide, we used to use the Salute when in uniform, and the Sign when not in uniform.

The Good Turn

The Good Turn is the daily service expected to be given by all members of the Movement to the community. All members, youth and adult, try to think of ways they can do a good turn every day, and many individuals and units develop the concept further by undertaking service projects at local, national and international levels.

The Thinking Day Symbol

The Thinking Day Symbol was introduced in 1975. The World Trefoil in the centre represents the World Association, and the arrows pointing towards it represent action and direction. The circle of the design represents the world.

 

RESOURCES

An article I wrote about what the Links of Unity REALLY mean.

I wrote an article about Links of Unity and what they really mean many years ago after I represented Australia at an international event in Europe. For those who have never attended an international event, this article might give you a real life feeling of what the Links really mean.

A game that can be used to teach/reinforce the Links of Unity.