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SIGBI President’s September 2022 Message

Dear Members

I hope you have all enjoyed your summer break and remained safe and well. The weather has been glorious but brought its own problems with the shortage of water, closely followed by thunderstorms which caused flash flooding. Now as we approach the autumn equinox on 23 September, there is an autumnal feel in the air.

As you return to working on your chosen projects, taking place during September are two significant days in the Soroptimist calendar: International Literacy Day and the International Day of Peace.

International Literacy Day takes place on the 8 September every year to raise awareness and concern for literacy problems that exist within our local communities as well as globally.

International Literacy Day was first conceived at the World Conference of Ministers of Education, held in Tehran, Iran in 1965. The following year the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) took the lead and declared that this should become an annual event ‘to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights’.

The theme for International Literacy Day 2022 is ‘Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces’. Although much progress has been made in improving literacy rates since 1966, illiteracy remains a global problem. There are thought to be more than 750 million adults around the world who cannot read.

Can you imagine navigating modern day life without the basic ability to read and write?  Not to be able to write a letter, read a road sign, an instruction manual, a prescription bottle label?

Supporting International Literacy Day helps to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities, and societies.

On 21 September each year, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire and has chosen ‘End racism. Build peace’ as the theme for 2022.

Achieving true peace entails much more than just laying down of arms. It involves creating a world in which people are treated equally, regardless of their race.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said:

Racism continues to poison institutions, social structures, and everyday life in every society. It continues to be a driver of persistent inequality and denies people their fundamental human rights. It destabilizes societies, undermines democracies, erodes the legitimacy of governments, and the linkages between racism and gender inequality are unmistakable.

We all have a role to play in fostering peace, working towards a world free of racism and racial discrimination. A world where compassion and empathy overcome suspicion and hatred.

A world we can be truly proud of.

In friendship

Cathy Cottridge
SIGBI President