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Who We Are

Who are Soroptimists?

Soroptimists are women who use the expertise and skills they develop in their life to advance the status of women and try to make the world a better place. Membership offers the opportunity to work with other members throughout the world for equality, development, peace and human rights for all.

We are a non-political and non-religious organisation that works on projects at international, national, regional and local level.

Soroptimist International is the world’s largest women’s service organisation. A vibrant, dynamic organisation, we are committed to a world where women and girls together achieve their individual and collective potential. Where they can realise their aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong and peaceful communities worldwide.

We have over 80,000 clubs around the world, in over 130 countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe. We work to advance human rights and especially the status of women. We work to empower women through economic independence and greater participation in decision-making at all levels.

Soroptimists at the United Nations

We are immensely proud of our Consultative Status at the United Nations, where we have 12 permanent representatives in New York, Geneva, Vienna,Nairobi and Paris. In 1984 we attained Category 1 Consultative Status as a non-governmental organisation (NGO): the only women’s service organisation to do so. It is only through work at club level that we maintain our national and international influence. In 2013 our Federation also attained Special Consultative Status at the UN.

And to get a little more specific; Soroptimist International has been granted official recognition with:

  • United Nations Special Agencies, including the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
  • International Labour Organisation
  • UN Industrial Development Organisation
  • Food and Agricultural Organisation

Soroptimist International is also accredited with:

  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees
  • UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  • UN Environment Programme

What does the word ‘Soroptimist’ mean?

It’s a question often asked. It was coined from the Latin soror meaning sister, and optima meaning best. Soroptimist is perhaps best interpreted as ‘the best for women’.