Reflections and Reactions
As I prepare to leave office, after 4 years, looking back helps to move forward – advice from Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II.
During my first year we were looking at projects through the lenses of Advocacy, Economic Empowerment, Education, Environment, Healthcare and Violence Against Women (VAW). At the same time the UN moved from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). That changed the focus from just developing countries to include all UN members states – a long overdue inclusive focus. This demonstrated the need for all countries to pay attention to equity, recognising that to achieve equality resources have to be directed towards those in most need. This leads to justice for all.
The 17 SDGs had 169 targets. How could we make sense of these for Programme Action (PA), a pillar of our endeavours as soroptimists? Fortunately, the UN provided a framework of 5 Ps – People (SDGs 1-5). Prosperity (SDGs 7-11), Planet (SDGs 6 and 12-15), Peace (including Justice and Strong Institutions – SDG 16) and Partnerships (SDG 17). I find that mnemonics help me to remember key items so, as in our mission statement, we seek to transform the lives and status of women and girls through Education, Empowerment and Enabling opportunities (3Es). We seek to do this through raising Awareness, Advocating for change and taking Action (3As). All this with the focus of helping women and girls be the best they can be.
However, we had not expected the arrival of Covid 19 with the cancellation of participation at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 64 in 2020), lockdown (no face-to-face meetings), increases in VAW and migration and our inability to hold our annual conferences in anything but web-based formats. However, we all learned to use platforms such as Zoom and found that that enabled people previously unable to join in our annual Federation Programme Action Committee because of inability to travel to the venues, to do so. Inevitably it made attendance for those without internet facilities or kit to join in unless someone in their bubble was able to help. Now we have moved to a blended format (face-to-face with internet link) for the FPAC so that we get the benefit of making and renewing friendships as well as including others via the web.
This year our focus is climate change and I hear some asking what has that to do with women and girls and how can I/we hope to influence something as all-encompassing as that? Well, the answer is simple – women and girls are impacted more by the changes than men and boys. However, as always, we cannot do without their involvement. Also, for example, we can reduce, repair, reuse and recycle our clothes (see SI The Wrekin’s Best Practice Award last year) as well as other BPAs (from 2019 and 2020) and, of course, the tree planting for our centenary.
Which SDGs are the most important?
- Some of you want to focus on Education (SDG 4) but we cannot do this without including other SDGs;
- If you are hungry (SDG2) you are unable to benefit fully from education;
- If you/your family cannot afford to buy nutritious food (SDG1 – no poverty) then that inhibits success in education;
- If the family’s bread winner is not employed, or employed in a low paid job, then poverty is inevitable so SDGs 7-11 become important;
- Wherever you are living Climate Change will affect you – (SDGs 6 and 12-15) – for example contaminated water and air;
- Without nutritious food, potable water and a clean environment your health will suffer (SDG 3);
- All of these impact our ability to achieve gender equality (SDG 5)
- If you live in a place where justice, strong institutions and peace are absent (SDG 16) none of these can be delivered efficiently and effectively – e.g. Ukraine and Afghanistan; and without working with others (SDG 17, Partnership) we will not succeed.
So, as my valedictory blog, I would like to encourage you to consider all the SDGs because they are interlinked and, in my view, SDGs 16 and 17 are the foundation stones on which to achieve success in the others. Without our individual and collective action on climate change the future for our children and grandchildren will be bleak BUT WE CAN DO IT! For current soroptimists, join us for the FPAC meeting, in person or on zoom, to hear how members from across SIGBI are doing so and, if you haven’t joined us yet, follow this link and help us to achieve an even better world going forward.
SIGBI Director of Programme