Empowering Young Women Around the World to Surf Smart
Every year, International Day of the Girl reminds us that young women everywhere face a unique set of obstacles. From discrimination and gender-based violence in the physical world to cyberbullying and misinformation in the digital one, threats against the rights of young women continue to mount. The need to advocate for them has never been stronger.
At Gen, one way we support young women is by providing the tools they need to stay safe online. For the past several years, Norton, one of our leading Cyber Safety brands, has collaborated with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) to create Surf Smart 2.0. This badge-earning course teaches the basics of online safety and responsible digital decision making to girls between the ages of 5 and 25. The Surf Smart program launched in 2011 and to date has reached more than 600,000 young people across the globe.
This year, we’re pleased to report that Surf Smart 2.0 has continued to expand its reach. In the past five months alone, the program has positively impacted more than 5,200 youth in 15 countries, with thousands more expected by the end of 2024. In addition to the lives directly reached, the Surf Smart 2.0 curriculum has been downloaded more than 12,000 times. Some additional highlights from 2023 include:
- The latest phase of Surf Smart 2.0 hinges on the Global Advocacy Fund, which teaches young people not only to be responsible digital citizens but also to make the internet a better, more inclusive place. Participants, or “Smart Surfers,” create their own digital advocacy campaigns using the skills they learn through Surf Smart 2.0. Six member organizations have signed on so far, with the first generation of Smart Surfers currently being trained. The program expects to reach 200 young women in 10 countries by the end of 2024.
- The Surf Smart 2.0 Fund awards grants of up to £8,000 GBP (~USD$9,800) for member organizations to provide the Surf Smart 2.0 curriculum to their members. Sixteen local organizations have participated this year, including five in Europe, four in the Asia Pacific region, one in the Western Hemisphere and six in Africa. WAGGGS estimate these grants will support 200,000 young people worldwide by the end of 2024.
- Three WAGGGS World Centers in London, Switzerland and India have become hubs for in-person Surf Smart 2.0 training. Volunteer leaders have led sessions for more than 1,200 World Center visitors since April, and a virtual training module is nearing completion. The Centers also train local unit leaders to train their members in digital safety. After attending a training in India, a Pune School teacher and female unit leader reflected, “It was like a wake-up call for me. I knew most of these things before but did not realize cybersecurity was that important.”
- In July, the Surf Smart 2.0 curriculum went live on Campfire, WAGGGS’ online hub, including background on the program and a Surf Smart Activity Pack. The resources are available to Guides and Scouts anywhere in the world.
This International Day of the Girl, we hope you’ll consider sharing stories of girl changemakers, letting girls lead, investing in organizations tackling inequalities experienced by girls and engaging with government officials to advocate for policies and services that support girls. We look forward to continuing to grow the Surf Smart 2.0 badge program in new communities around the world. For more information on all the ways Gen supports gender equity, check out our 2023 Social Impact Report.