Over the last week we have had the pleasure of joining together for SIGBI’s 87th Annual Conference and what an inspiring experience we have had, a fitting end to Soroptimist International’s centenary year!
My congratulations and sincere thanks to Conference Chair Anne and all her committee, for all they have achieved despite an extremely tumultuous two years.
Throughout the year Members have found many innovative ways to celebrate our Bright Past. I am immensely proud of the tree planting project, which to date has seen over 70,000 trees planted throughout the Federation. I want to thank Project Lead Jacqui Purnell who, together with her team, has provided a wealth of information and produced motivational webinars, encouraging members to continue planting. There are many more trees waiting to be planted and I am confident that we will achieve an ambitious goal of 100,000 trees for 100 years.
The trees are a legacy for SIGBI; I recently came across a lovely quote – ‘A civilisation flourishes when men (and women) plant trees, under which they themselves will never sit’.
I would also like to thank all the contributors to the Centennial Exhibition, and especially Margaret Clark, whose endless patience over many months, finally brought it to fruition.
Over 80 years ago, not long after our Federation was formed, a Soroptimist remarked ‘As a band of women, whose aim is the furthering of international understanding, we must stick together and keep in active working order our Soroptimist organisation, the value of which is greater than ever before’.
This is as true today as it was then, with many of the challenges remaining the same throughout the world, that of underage marriage and lack of girls’ education, gender-based violence and women used as weapons of war.
There is also the modern-day escalation of human trafficking and the climate change emergency.
Our continued growth lies in our thinking and planning for the future, there is still so much more to be achieved, particularly in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals.
We must continue to form partnerships with other likeminded organisations, who will aid further promotion of our mission to improve the lives of women and girls.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently published his report ‘Our Common Agenda’ and calls upon the international community to join forces to tackle the rising nationalism, deep rooted rifts, glaring inequalities and the climate change emergency that marks our current world situation, and to strengthen and accelerate multilateral cooperation in the coming years.
We must respond to that challenge. We must be constantly monitoring what is happening worldwide in health, education, employment, environmental and economic matters, human rights and the status of women.
We need to enable wider understanding of our consultative status with the United Nations and the importance of CEDAW – the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
We need to be open to change, to be flexible in order to meet the challenges that that change may bring.
We must be up to date in our thinking, particularly if we wish to be attractive to younger women. Our organisation needs to be relevant in today’s digital world.
Soroptimist International’s global reach makes it uniquely placed to bring about change, through educating, empowering and enabling women and girls – it’s our responsibility to make it happen.
Soroptimists are immensely proud of the women who have gone before them, and we owe it to them to make sure our organisation continues to thrive. We need to continue to connect locally, nationally and globally, moving towards common goals together, building our Brilliant Future.
We have spent much of the last year celebrating our Bright Past and now we need to move forward into our Brilliant Future.