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President’s April 2021 Message

What an amazing two week trip to New York!  The chance to join 25,000 women from around the world to discuss all issues pertaining to Women and Girls.  Normally SIGBI would have had a delegation of 16 but because the whole of the United Nations – Commission on the Status of Women was virtual we had a group of 128 members from across the Federation.  There were some inspiring speakers, great debates and enlightening webinars. The excellent presentations by SI and SIGBI are on their YouTube pages, well worth viewing.  If you did not join, you missed a great opportunity.  CSW will be virtual again next year so put the date in your diary now.

In her concluding remarks the UN Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, “Women put their trust in this Commission and in the UN. This is why they turn up in such high numbers every year. The pandemic did not deter them, instead they turned up in large number to highlight the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and girls.  We know we need to build back better, greener. in a gender responsive manner and in an equitable manner.  We therefore need more advocates, resources, influencers, leaders and young people who can be a force for change today not tomorrow.”

It is with great concern that we learn that there is a move by several countries who have already signed up to withdraw from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (otherwise known as the Istanbul Convention) thus undermining legislative protection for women and girls in those countries.

Read the full position statement from Soroptimist International

Violence against Women and Girls was high on the agenda for CSW.  But also high on the agenda has been similar tragedies that occurred across our Federation.  The whole debate about VAWG is complex and I would like to thank all the Clubs, Regions, National Associations who do a tremendous amount of work in this area.

My concerns for this year have been Membership and Programme.

In the last month I have had a number of discussions with members and clubs around Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and the huge range of issues this covers. I understand why we use the words Violence against Women and Girls, because it is the language used by the UN and CSW, but how do we address and understand the wider issues of abuse?

Laws can help but they do not solve the problem.  Laws treat the symptoms but not the cause.  Quite rightly there is a lot of emphasis on rape, FGM, forced marriages, domestic abuse, modern day slavery, to name but a few, but how do we tackle the root cause of the problems.  I would welcome members thoughts on how we could begin to tackle the root causes.

As for the other concern, Membership, Chevonne and her Standing Committee have some great ideas for Membership Month in May – watch this space.

One of the great pluses of being a Virtual President has been the ability to join club meetings to hear a wide range of fascinating speakers, to present WhoIsShe certificates, to induct new members, to socialise, to celebrate St David’s Day three times and to take part in a wine tasting.

Thank you all for your kind invitations.