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Soroptimist International Celebrates 100 Years in 2021: A Virtual Conference


Leading up to the Soroptimist International 100 Celebrations, we were invited to take part in a “Candle Ceremony” submitting a picture and four wishes (pictured left).  





We joined many other clubs worldwide “lighting up the world in the name of a brilliant future”.  




Soroptimist International Celebrates 100 Years: A Virtual Conference

2nd October (5-8pm BST):  An introduction was followed by an illustrated history of Soroptimism. We were pleased that the parallel existence of Venture Clubs was mentioned as SI Bristol was the first Venture Club established in 1920 later to become a Soroptimist Club

Each of the five Federations described their achievements since the last Conference and their current projects.  Their impact on women and children globally, even during the coronavirus pandemic was impressive.  It was both eye-opening and eye-watering to hear the associated stories.

The United Nations Representatives were introduced and the vital role the play was summarised.

Peppered between these reports and keynote talks, were many short congratulatory video clips from individual members from around the world, each raising a glass, cup or lighting a candle – in keeping with their Club’s tradition.

Throughout the three hours there was a constant stream of chats from Soroptimists across the world – giving input and support.

3rd October (5-8pm BST):  There were many talks and congratulatory messages. Many projects were presented, including Limbs for Life (with Red Cross), Women’s Voice, Join Together, Women for Water, See Solar/Cook Solar, Restoring Dignity, Go with the Flow, Days for Girls, Educate to Lead and Road to Equality. Also, there was a thank you from Japan from help received from Soroptimists.  Local members were ‘on the ground’ while Agencies were still assessing the needs.

Representatives from the UN told of their goals.  There was an address from SI President Elect Maureen McGuire, a preview regarding Dublin Conference in 2023 and closing remarks from SI President Sharon Fisher.

Two sayings that resonated:

  • Go fast – go alone; succeed – go together
  • There are two wings – one women and one men; only when they are equal will we fly.

2nd and 3rd October (8-9pm BST):  Zoom breakout Rooms were organised with about 20 Soroptimists, from various parts of the globe, in each. Participants introduced themselves and then discussed the question:

What do you hope for our brilliant future?  Responses included:

  • Embrace electronic tools and Zoom meetings. Consider a mix of face-to-face and Zoom meetings.
  • Make it easy for services young members
  • More international collaboration
  • Impact legislation
  • An end for the need of Soroptimist’s service
  • Soroptimism is not a best kept secret

Another concern that was discussed was the issue of membership.  Responses included:

  • Clubs to support young women: e.g., option to pay membership fee monthly; first year free; 16–21-year-olds free. Venture Clubs in California and young member Clubs in Holland were mentioned.
  • Older members should stand aside and let younger members take the lead.
  • Lives of young women are different. Work with them, encourage them.  Don’t say ‘we tried that and it didn’t work’ – maybe it is time to try again.
  • More seasoned members should remember what it was like when they joined and recall their goals.
  • Diversity in ages is good, which fosters a wealth of knowledge
  • Everyone should have a voice.
  • Listen to young members
  • Form WhatsApp groups – maybe focussed on an interest (e.g., book or art appreciation)
  • How to get members involved? Need doers.
  • Reinvigorate passions