Skip links

Programme Director’s August 2022 Message

Figure 1 –

We have all, wherever we live, experienced the effects of climate change in recent months. This, together with other global issues such as conflict (e.g. Ukraine, Syria, Yemen), Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and other gender inequalities (e.g. widowhood) simply make our purpose of helping women and girls be the best they can be even more difficult to achieve.

This is demonstrated by a recent report from UN Women:

“The world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. Globally, out of 18 indicators for Sustainable Development Goals, only one indicator is close to target: the proportion of seats held by women in local government. We are still far from achieving gender equality in family, legislation, health, economic resources, and many other aspects.

  • We need bold commitment and action to accelerate progress in limited time;
  • We need to increase investments for collection and analysis of gender data;
  • We need to monitor progress on all other goals from a gender perspective;
  • The distance remaining to achieve SDG 5 is long and time is short.”

So, what can we do to help achieve gender equality and, as agreed in Paris in 2015, limit global warming to 1.5oC? Since then we have managed to raise the temperature by almost 1oC with the rise since industrialisation demonstrated by the graph (Figure 2) from NASA.

Figure 2 – GLOBAL LAND-OCEAN TEMPERATURE INDEX, Data source: NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). Credit: NASA/GISS

Are you thinking that this is too hard to do? If so, think again! For example, you and I can:

  • follow the examples outlined in our Federation Programme Action Committee meeting in 2021 and the Best Practice Award winner from SI The Wrekin which addressed ‘fast fashion’ and shop from sustainable and ethical fashion brands;
  • reduce/repair/reuse/recycle and, in the UK, use schemes such as fashioncycle from John Lewis and shwapping from Marks and Spencer as well as the charity shops; outside the UK there are many recycling offers on e-bay, for example;
  • reduce single use plastic – see our day of action activities here
  • litter pick on beaches, river banks, public parks and work with organisations such as the Marine Conservation Society in the UK.

Our clubs have taken part in all of these activities and more – including tree planting for our 100 years celebrations in 2021.

But what about VAWG? Are the Convention to End Violence Against Women (CEDAW) and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) working? Not as well as we would like them to do! CEDAW is not enforceable whilst the Istanbul Convention from the Council of Europe is but it is not signed and ratified by many countries. Turkey has just resiled from it. There has been unrest about this unenforceability and attempts to change the situation for some time with the Every Woman Treaty being the culmination of hard work by those concerned about the lack of progress. This treaty has been worked on across 128 countries by over 1700 women’s rights advocates, lawyers, scholars, and organisations.  Soroptimists have been engaged in the discussion from the get go, both individually and through our various groups, such as our UN Representatives. Now is the time to get active and seek to ensure women’s and girl’s involvement in all aspects of our projects, no matter which SDG they support – all are important and vary by locality, be that continent, country, cities, towns and villages worldwide. Concentrating on one SDG will not achieve our ambitions. For example:

  • SDG 4, education – school education needs children to have been well fed before attending school;
  • SDG 2, no hunger- needs to have good food available at affordable prices;
  • SDG 1, no poverty – needs parents/guardians to have gainful employment in order to be able to afford to buy nutritious food; this means paying attention to SDGs 7-11;
  • SDG 3, good health – depends on an adequate diet and universal access to health care as well as SDG 6, access to potable water, plus no need to for women and girls to walk long distances to carry it from a well, and SDGs 11-14 to ensure we will not need ‘planet B’;
  • SDG 5, gender equality – needs to have equitable access for all, including girls;
  • SDG 16, peace/justice/strong institutions is needed to provide the atmosphere in which other SDGs can be delivered whilst SDG 17, partnership, is essential to all since we cannot achieve success without working across communities and having strong allies.


We need justice and equality for all women and girls in all our diversity. Now is the time for raising Awareness, Advocacy and taking Action – our 3 As to help implement our 3 Es (Educate, Enable, Empower).

Can you help us to achieve this? If so, come and join us.

Kay Richmond
SIGBI Programme Director