Economic EmpowermentThe objective for this Programme area is to “Improve access to economic empowerment and sustainable opportunities for the employment of women”.  (See the full list of Programme Objectives).

For further information about the Assistant Programme Director for Economic Empowerment, see the Programme Team Page.


Environmental SustainabilityThe objective for this Programme area is to “Address the specific needs of women and girls by improving environmental sustainability, and mitigating effects of climate change and disasters”.  (See the full list of Programme Objectives).

For further information about the Assistant Programme Director for Environmental Sustainability, see the Programme Team Page.

Food Security and HealthcareThe objective for this Programme area is to “Ensure women and girls have food security and access to the highest attainable standard of health care”.  (See the full list of Programme Objectives).

For further information about the Assistant Programme Director for Food Security and Healthcare, see the Programme Team Page.

Violence and Conflict ResolutionThe objective for this Programme area is to “Eliminate violence against women and girls and ensure women’s participation in conflict resolution”.  (See the full list of Programme Objectives)

For further information about the Assistant Programme Director for Violence and Conflict Resolution, see the Programme Team Page.

ECOSOCThis Assistant Programme Director post has been created specifically to monitor SIGBI’s special consultative status at ECOSOC, and ensure that this status is maintained, by highlighted Clubs’ work towards achieving the millennium development goals. Therefore, there is no Programme Objective for this post, as listed in Soroptimist International’s Programme Focus 2011-2015 (See the full list of Programme Objectives).

For further information about the Assistant Programme Director for ECOSOC, see the Programme Team Page.

10th December – Human Rights Day

Posted: December 12, 2012

10th December   Human Rights DayThis day is one of the most significant days in the UN’s calendar of events and it is traditionally on 10th December  It is the date that the five-yearly UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded. In addition, many activists, charities, government bodies, nongovernmental organisations and grassroots groups working on all aspects of human rights protection and promotion schedule special events in observance of the day.

Soroptimist Action 2012

Soroptimists celebrate Human Rights Day and use it as a day of action!  They take action in their local communities on and around December 10th.

This year, the theme is “Every Voice Counts”.

Just two of the hundreds of events worldwide that Soroptimists organised to celebrate Human Rights Day 2012 are shown below:

 10th December   Human Rights Day  10th December   Human Rights Day

 SI St Albans and District sung carols at St Albans station and raised £422 for their local women’s refuge

SI London Chilterns region wore purple for “Stop the Traffik” to kick off the campaign “Taxis Against Trafficking”

For further information:

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon’s Human Rights Day 2012 message

“Everyone has the right to be heard and to shape the decisions that affect their community. This right is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and fully integrated in international law, especially in article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Over the past century, we have made undeniable progress along the path of inclusion.

Yet far too many groups and individuals face far too many obstacles. Women have the right to vote almost everywhere, but remain hugely under-represented in parliaments and peace processes, in senior government posts and corporate boardrooms, and in other decision-making positions. Indigenous people frequently face discrimination that denies them the opportunity to make full use of their guaranteed rights or fails to take account of their circumstances. Religious and ethnic minorities – as well as people with disabilities or those with a different sexual orientation or political opinion – are often hampered from taking part in key institutions and processes. Institutions and public discourse need to represent societies in all their diversity.

More generally, in several parts of the world, we have seen alarming threats to hard-won gains in democratic governance. In some countries, civil society groups face growing pressures and restrictions. Legislation has been introduced specifically targeting civil society organizations and making it almost impossible for them to operate. Champions of democracy have encountered new confrontational measures. We should all be troubled by such backsliding.

Even in societies with a good track record, there is room for improvement. No country has succeeded in ensuring that all its inhabitants are able to participate fully in public affairs, including the right to be elected to public office and to have equal access to public services. Enacting new rights or removing unjust laws is not always sufficient. Too often, discrimination persists in practice, creating barriers and mindsets that can be hard to overcome.

Vibrant civil society groups are among the keys to the well-being and functioning of any nation, and the United Nations deplores measures taken to suppress them. That is why, on this Human Right Day, the United Nations is highlighting the right to participate and the associated rights that make it possible – freedom of expression and opinion, and peaceful assembly and association.

International law is clear: No matter who you are, or where you live, your voice counts. On this Day, let us unite to defend your right to make it heard.”

Ban Ki-moon

The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.” Aung San Suu Kyi


Soroptimists lobby Governments on taking action for Malala

Posted: December 11, 2012

Soroptimists lobby Governments on taking action for MalalaSIGBI Immediate Past President Maureen and President Pat respectively lobbied the UK and Scottish parliaments on what action was to be taken regarding the shooting of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousifzai and her friends.

This was following the passing of a resolution of urgency at the Belfast Conference 2012 that:

“Soroptimists condemn the unwarranted shooting of 3 school girls in Pakistan by the Taliban because the girls wished to continue their education.  We confirm the commitment of Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development goals particularly as they relate to the education of girls worldwide and call on all Governments to press the Pakistan Government to bring the perpetrators to justice and to protect the rights of girls to access  full secondary education unmolested.”

SIGBI have received full responses from both Governments, and invite you to read both SIGBI’s letters and the responses below:

Sign the petition:

We call on Pakistan to agree a plan to deliver education for every child.
We call on all countries to outlaw discrimination against girls.
We call on international organizations to ensure the world’s 61 million out of school children are in education by the end of 2015.

See also the Economic Empowerment and Learning Opportunities pages for further information.

Global Voice – Special 10th December Appeal edition

Posted: December 11, 2012

Global Voice   Special 10th December Appeal editionWelcome to this Special Edition of the Global Voice for the December 10th Appeal.

Each year on Human Rights Day the SI President launches an appeal that serves our mission of educating, empowering and enabling women and girls.

This year’s Appeal is for Birthing in the Pacific, reducing maternal mortality in Papua New Guinea, and this special issue of Global Voice gives an update on the appeal, which was launched in 2011, and information on how you can support this appeal.

“Global Voice” is an electronic newsletter produced by Soroptimist International (our umbrella organisation). To register for your own copy please click on “Subscribe to List” from this link or visit the Soroptimist International website and add your email address where its says “Join our mailing list”.

Cambodia Child Dream Organisation dedicates well to SIGBI

Posted: December 7, 2012

Cambodia Child Dream Organisation dedicates well to SIGBI

One of the families who will benefit from the new well

The Cambodia Child Dream Organisation (CCDO) UK, took out a stall at the SIGBI Belfast Conference 2012, in October, and during the conference held a raffle.

They have now informed us that the raffle raised £378, which is enough to build two and a half wells for the benefit of the people of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Cambodia Child Dream Organisation dedicates well to SIGBIOne of these wells (no 530) has already been built, and it now benefits six families (46 people) who live in Trach Village, Siem Reap Province.  We are honoured that this well has been dedicated to SIGBI.

This water well will improve health, life expectancy and living conditions of the people using it.

The winning ticket for the raffle will be drawn by the Mayor of Kenilworth, at Antigo Store, Kenilworth on Saturday 15th December at 6pm.

Information about Cambodia Child Dream Organisation UK

CCDO UK was registered as a UK Charity in 2011, and Soroptimist Margaret Jarman, President Elect of SI Solihull and UK Director/Chair of Trustees of CCDO UK says:

“My involvement all started by a chance meeting with the American President of CCDO inc New York, in 2010 and the first UK Well was built in memory of my late husband Peter. I have been to Cambodia twice now and I am due to go again in the Spring of 2013.

CCDO UK is supported by SI Stourbridge, SI Kidderminster and by SI Midland Arden Region in the recycling of bras, jewellary and mobile phones. UKPAC and SI Midland Arden Region became involved through a meeting arranged by Jan Hemlin, Chair of UKPAC.

I give talks to Soroptimist and other clubs (Kingswinford Townswomen’s Guild supports us) and local businesses. This is all to raise awareness of the plight of the people, especially the Children of Cambodia and to raise funds to build water wells. Where wells have been built the death rate from water born diseases has reduced by over 25%. We also support four schools, an orphanage and a Women’s Health Centre in rural Siem Reap.”


Landmine casualties halved since the landmine ban

Posted: December 6, 2012

Landmine casualties halved since the landmine banThe number of reported new landmine and unexploded ordnance casualties has reduced dramatically since the banning of landmines was agreed, say UK anti-landmine campaigners on the 15th anniversary of the treaty to outlaw the weapons.

In 1999, two years after the ban was signed, there were 8,807 reported new landmine casualties, by 2011 that figure has reduced by over a half to 4,286 reported new casualties. The rate of reduction is likely to be much higher as in later years there have been better methods of reporting leading to relatively higher numbers of casualties being reported.

There has been remarkable progress in saving lives from landmines since the treaty to ban them was signed in 1997. This shows that international treaties do not end up as just words on paper,” said Anna MacDonald, Head of Arms Control at Oxfam. “The fact that even those countries that have so far not joined the treaty are abiding by it is strong evidence that setting high standards in international agreements is the right approach. When lives are at stake we should not be compromising for the sake of bringing on board a handful of sceptical countries.”

Challenges remain however, with a few countries responsible for the majority of landmine casualties. The country with the worst record of new landmine casualties is Afghanistan. Between 1999 and 2011 there were 14,951 new victims. Second worst is Colombia, which suffered 8,448 new casualties over the same period and Cambodia is third with 8,041. Casualty rates in these countries are still declining, however, with Cambodia seeing a significant reduction in new casualty figures thanks to clearance work.

“From November 1992 to July this year, MAG’s operations in Cambodia released 560km2 of land back to communities, and found and destroyed more than 64,000 landmines and in excess of 185,000 items of unexploded ordnance,” said Nick Roseveare, Chief Executive of the Mines Advisory Group. “Since peaking at more than 1,200 casualties per year in the late 1990s we have seen a steady drop in the country to just 211 by the end of last year.[1]

The work to ensure the rights of victims, however, requires sustained engagement. “The long term consequences on survivors and their families can be devastating. Action on Armed Violence’s 2012 survey of over 900 survivors in Western Sahara found that a quarter had no income,” said Steve Smith, Chief Executive of Action on Armed Violence.

Before the ban treaty was signed it was estimated that 65 million anti-personnel landmines had been laid between 1978-1993. This use has all but ceased, with only a few non-signatory states using the weapons over the past decade. In the past year only Syria has used antipersonnel landmines and last year only Israel, Libya and Myanmar used the weapons.

The number of countries producing anti-personnel landmines since the ban has also declined from 54 before the ban to just 12 countries today. Of these 12, only four, India, Myanmar, Pakistan and South Korea, are thought to be actively producing the weapons. With estimated stocks of over 140 million between them, China, Russia and the US have the largest stockpiles and while they have not signed the treaty, they are not using or transferring the weapons. Landmine Monitor notes that the trade and transfer in anti-personnel landmines between states has effectively ended with no documented state-to-state transfer of the weapon since the ban treaty was signed in 1997.

The UK has played an important role in the efforts to ban landmines and is one of the world’s leading donors to mine clearance. The engagement of Diana, Princess of Wales helped raise the profile of the issue and British NGOs have been influential within the international campaign and the development of humanitarian mine clearance.

Diana, Princess of Wales encouraged the UK to use its leadership in support of the global effort to ban landmines. This British leadership continued with the ban on cluster bombs and future UK leadership on other issues related to banning weapons which cause unacceptable human harm and encourage the protection of civilians would be a fitting way of continuing the Princess’ legacy,” said Dr Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

We must not let up to ensure the founding principle of a world without landmines does not just remain a utopian vision but a concrete reality. State Parties must not give up on the final objective: to return a land free of mines to civilian populations,” said Aleema Shivji, Director of Handicap International UK.

Eight UK members of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines – Action on Armed Violence, Amnesty International UK, Article 36, Handicap International, Mines Advisory Group, Oxfam, Power International and the Soroptimist International UK Programme Action Committee  – call upon the international community to finish the work to eradicate antipersonnel landmines by honouring the commitments of the treaty they have signed, stepping up mine clearance and victim assistance work, and pressing remaining states to join the ban.

For further details:

UniTE Campaign

Posted: November 23, 2012

UniTE CampaignUN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon launchedhis UNiTE to End Violence Campaign in 2008. This Campaign includes a target of raising $100million annually for the UN  “Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women by 2015.” The Fund provides grants to support  local, national and worldwide initiatives. The aims of UNiTE are to achieve the following five goals in all countries by 2015:-

  • Adopt and enforce national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls
  • Adopt and implement multi-sector national action plans
  • Strengthen data collection on the prevalence of violence against women and girls
  • Increase public awareness and social mobilization
  • Address sexual violence in conflict

UniTE CampaignThe UNiTE campaign proclaims the 25th of the month as Orange Day, aiming to raise awareness about the issue of violence against women and girls, not only once a year on 25 November (the International Day to End Violence against Women), but every month!

What can you do?

  • Visit the Orange Day event page on Facebook
  • Wear orange on the 25th of each month
  • Invite others to wear orange on every 25th of the month, share posts & tweet about the Day
  • Use and share the photo of the UNiTE Ribbon — the new symbol for ending violence against women and girls

UniTE Campaign

Visit the CSW57 Website


International Day to End Violence against Women November 25th – UN announce new Campaign – COMMIT

International Day to End Violence against Women November 25th – UN announce new Campaign – COMMITOn November 20th 2012, the United Nations announced a new initiative called the COMMIT campaign, which asks governments to make national commitments that will be showcased globally, encouraging countries to come up with new policies to protect victims and end violence against women and girls.

Today 125 countries have laws that penalise domestic violence. However, up to seven in 10 women continue to be targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, and 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is still not a crime.

Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equity and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) calls on all Heads of State and Governments to make new commitments and take strong national action to protect women and girls. “The world community has already come a long way with national laws, international treaties, and widespread and growing awareness on ending violence against women. But it is not enough. Government promises must be translated into concrete actions, such as providing new safe houses, free hotline services, and free legal and medical aid to survivors. The time for complacency has run out. Together, it is possible to stop the violence against women and girls.”

Hear Michelle’s speech

See the Violence and Conflict Resolution pages

Impact of the Support for Malala

Impact of the Support for Malala

ISLAMABAD: Nov09 President Asif Ali Zardari, Special Envoy of UN Secretary General on Global Education, Gordon Brown and Federal Minister/Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Farzana Raja handing over school enrolment certificate to a girl from BISP beneficiary family, during Waseela-e-Taleem launching ceremony at Presidency.

The tragedy that struck Pakistan in early October 2012 shocked not only the world but also women and girls of Pakistan.

Malala was a household name already. She was known for her courage, and her struggle for the rights of the girls of Swat who wanted to be educated.

But, the shooting came as a complete shock. That she would actually be first identified and then shot, was something no one thought could ever happen. The anger and anguish of the Pakistani public is difficult to put into words.

Impact of the Support for Malala

SI Karachi Central “stood up for Malala”

When the world stood in support for Malala their efforts did not go unnoticed nor were they in vain.

The worldwide outpouring of shock, grief and indignation was surprising for the Government of Pakistan. The pressure on the Government of Pakistan was such that the leaders of this nation could not just do nothing.

The Government had to take Education and Literacy seriously and it did!

Impact of the Support for Malala

Soroptimists in Birmingham “stood up” for Malala

The President of Pakistan formally launched a four-year literacy programme under which more than three million children of poor families, especially girls, will get free education. The programme was launched in connection with the Global Action Day for Malala Yousufzai being observed on 10th November on a call given by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

UN’s Special Envoy for Global Education and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown attended the ceremony. The programme was launched in connection with the Global Action Day for Malala Yousufzai being observed on Saturday (today) on a call given by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Mr. Brown presented to the President of Pakistan, a petition carrying one million signatures of people across the world to express solidarity with Malala. The President also signed this petition.

A few days ago, another piece of good news – The “Compulsory Education Bill” has been passed by the Parliament in Pakistan which makes Education compulsory for all children.

The bill provides education for all children of the age 5-16 in schools established by the federal government and local government in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).The provincial assemblies will have to follow suit and get the bill passed by their respective assemblies too.

Under the bill, every child, regardless of sex, nationality or race, shall have a fundamental right to free and compulsory education. More good news was to follow: It was stated that NO school, other than a school established owned or controlled by the appropriate government, after the commencement of this Act, be established or function, without obtaining a certificate of registration from the prescribed authority.

(This is important as many schools or Madressaha’s are run without the knowledge of the Government where children are brain-washed and extreme forms of religious teachings are taught to them).

Parents who would refuse to send their children for free education, would be fined or sent to Prison.

Addressing the issue of child labour, the bill stated that person who would employ children for labour would be fined with the penalty of 50,000 rupees and six months imprisonment.

So all those who stood for Malala – Thank you- because you did your bit to make all this possible!

See the letter from Gordon Brown “Thank you from Malala”


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