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President Isobel’s August 2020 Message

Isobel-SmithI attended the 4 days of the Soroptimist International Board Meeting from Monday 27th July to Thursday the 30th July. Or rather the 4 nights as BST meant I started at 19.00 and the earliest finish was 00.30 the next day!

Bette Levy, our UN Representative in New York, presented on a number of issues including the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development Goals. Soroptimist International’s report ‘The Road to Equality: The Sustainable Development Goals, Women & Girls’, demonstrated the innovations that SI members bring to their communities, supporting countries on pathways to sustainable development and how we are able to mobilise and respond quickly and efficiently in emergency situations. Soroptimist International Report for the High-Level Political Forum 2020

The Istanbul Convention was one of the many issues discussed, its full name is the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. It is a legal framework to tackle violence against women and girls, covering domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation (FGM), honour-based violence, and forced marriage. It brought the importance of the convention to life when President Anna SI Europe, SIE, talked about her concern with Poland’s decision to leave the European treaty.

The UK has yet to ratify the Istanbul Convention. An Early Day Motion was tabled on the 3rd of June to mark its 8th Anniversary and express disappointment in the UK Government not having ratified the Convention in the three years since the Act received Royal Assent; and it called on the UK Government to finally ratify this vital international agreement that will help protect women and girls here and across Europe.

We heard that Soroptimist International has joined with other organisations and individuals, working in collaboration with the NGO Coalition to End Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, in signing a letter urging all Member States to ratify ILO Convention 190 and to begin effective implementation without delay.  A convention that aims to grant “the right for everybody to work free from violence and harassment on the work floor.”

All the Federations, apart from Africa, did a presentation on their Centenary Celebrations. It was interesting that there was quite a bit of overlap especially on the tree planting project. SIGBI was acknowledged by the other Federations when they had adopted the same projects as us. I will put the presentation I delivered on the website for you to see.

I was able to talk about how we are ‘getting things done’ in SIGBI by using our members talents and expertise on our various working parties. This is something that SI are considering, too. So, watch out for future opportunities to work with other Soroptimist international members from across the Federations.

It is such a rich and rewarding experience when you work with others from different backgrounds to address the issues that face women and girls. I thank International President Sharon Fisher for an informative and valuable 4 days.

Best wishes,





Federation President 2019-2020

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