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Let’s have a Soroptimist Centenary Party

Everyone loves a celebration. Soroptimists love a reason for a party – after all fun, food and friendship are part of our lives. 2021 gives us a very special reason for celebrating for a whole year. I hope every Soroptimist by now knows that 2021 is the Centenary Year of Soroptimist International.

Around the world we will be having a year long campaign (or should I say party?) which will reflect on our past, celebrate our present, and look forward to the future. As part of the celebrations, SI is introducing new and exciting ways for Soroptimists around the world to connect with one another, and to share the SI vision and message far and wide. SI is planning a 3 day festival in October so keep a look out for further details. Why not sign up to the Soroptimist International newsletter, Global Voice, to keep in touch with SI Centenary activities and those in our other Federations – (scroll to the bottom to sign up for the newsletter)

SIGBI has planned many activities including a reception at the House of Lords and has Soroptimist Centenary items on sale so do check out the SIGBI Centenary website where you will find more details.

The Beginning

Soroptimist International started life in Oakland, California in October 1921 thanks to the efforts of Stuart Morrow, a professional organizer of men’s service clubs and Violet Richardson who had the vision to see such clubs were needed for women. 81 women answered that first call. Isn’t it true that from little acorns grow mighty oaks?

What about the trees?

The American club’s first project was to ‘save the redwoods’. Soroptimists lobbied for protective laws to stop the large scale felling of these beautiful trees, gaining public support and ultimately achieving a protected reserve. Our first Soroptimist environmental project!

In the current age of climate change, environmental protection, conservation and preservation many clubs have seen the benefit of working with and for trees around the globe.

SIGBI as part of their celebrations is encouraging clubs to #PlantTreesforaBrilliantFuture. I have already seen information on social media to show that clubs have taken this to heart and have already started planting. Some are aiming for 100 trees for 100 years, while other are celebrating more modestly.  Have a look at some of the projects already underway.

I have enjoyed especially following SI Bristol’s campaign on Twitter where they have regularly posted photos of one hundred trees of different species that can be found in and around Bristol. I am amazed that so many species can be found in one city – how many can you find in your town or city?

SIGBI isn’t the only Federation to adopt a campaign of planting trees so hopefully by the end of 2021 Soroptimists around the world will have contributed an enormous amount to #SDG15 and its targets to sustainably manage forests and protect terrestrial ecosystems.

Don’t forget that you can also help plant trees by using Ecosia as your web search engine. There is useful information on how to do this on the SIGBI website. If your club members aren’t able to actually do the planting themselves why not let Ecosia do it for you. There is a dedicated SIGBI weblink for Ecosia which will enable us to keep track of all the trees planted in the Soroptimists Centenary name.

Those Magnificent Women

Soroptimist achievements over the course of 100 years would not have happened without those magnificent women who have worked to change the lives of women and girls. They haven’t stopped for conflict in war times, and they haven’t let epidemics and pandemics or other disasters stop them either. From the very beginning Soroptimists have shown vision, compassion and steadfastness in whatever they have set out to achieve, whether at local, regional, national or international level. SIGBI has chosen to recognize some of those outstanding women.

These #WhoIsShe? inspirational women, both past and present, from Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland have all been nominated by Soroptimist Clubs for their noteworthy contribution to society in the furtherance of the aims and objects of the organisation.

Every month SIGBI posts on social media and the website information about 12 women from past Soroptimists who may be no longer with us or may no longer be able to attend club meetings to current members who are making a difference in one of the countries which make up our SIGBI Federation. If you have missed those announced so far catch up on the SIGBI website.

I am sure that I am not the only one who has loved seeing familiar faces and reminding myself where they have touched my Soroptimist life. I have also been inspired by reading of the contributions by other Soroptimist women who never or have not yet crossed my path. Maybe your name isn’t in that photo gallery but believe me you have made a difference as well so celebrate each and every club Soroptimist.

Over the last century Soroptimist members, their friends and families have advocated to change laws, have raised funds to build schools and health clinics or provide water and sanitation for local communities; they have encouraged and supported individual women and girls to become independent, become entrepreneurs, often becoming community leaders and so much more.

Let’s celebrate for our Soroptimist Centenary every member of SIGBI past and present and their contributions they have made in changing the lives of thousands of women and girls. Here’s to the Soroptimists of the Future!

Pat Black
Past Federation President