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Inspirational Women Celebrate 75 Years of Human Rights

President Kate Belinis welcomed almost 30 Members of London Chilterns Region to the Human Rights Day event on Zoom Sat 9 Dec plus Lindsay Green, Director of Programme and member of SI Selby. 

Kate’s theme for the year is “Celebrating Inspirational Women” and we were indeed inspired by two amazing speakers to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Human Rights Day. See below for more detail.

Human Rights Day is the last day of the global Orange the World Campaign – 16 days of activism to end gender based violence from 25 Nov, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – so everyone was encouraged to wear something orange. Please see the photo above where everyone raised their hand to signify an end to violence against women and girls.

For more #OrangeTheWorld activities from around the Region click here:

The 2023 Theme for Human Rights Day is “Freedom, Equality and Justice for All”

Our two inspirational women speakers were:

Annette Maudsley – UK Border Force and SIGBI Safeguarding Lead

AmickyCarol Akiwumi MBE, CEO and Founder of

Our first speaker was Annette Maudsley: Recently appointed Safeguarding Lead for our Federation, SIGBI. Annette works for Border Force UK and in this role she is Immigration Officer, Customs Officer, Make Safe Officer and Behavioural Detection Officer. She has been the lead for “Stop the Traffik” campaign in Liverpool and is a Member of SI Liverpool.

Annette provided a snapshot of her professional life & experience as an officer of the UK Boarder Force working out of Heathrow Airport, providing her with expertise across the full range of Safeguarding issues; she explained the large number of Safeguarding situations she encountered daily. She went on to detail her involvement as part of Stop the Traffik as a member of SI Liverpool including the wide range of agencies involved and activities focused on each year. Annette ended her presentation with a detailed account of our role as Soroptimists in addressing safeguarding.

She showed the SIGBI video on Safeguarding which can be viewed by clicking here: 

Her presentation is available here to download and view as a PDF:  SI London Chilterns – Safeguarding 09-12-23 Publish

We held the business part of the meeting after Annette’s presentation, and before breaking for coffee, a short video was shown from COP28 in Dubai about gender and climate change:

After our coffee break President Kate led our Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations Human Rights Day – click here for more information

We lit candles and had readings to mark the occasion, reflect and deepen our  understanding. The current situation in Gaza/Israel has made this more poignant.

Kate started this part of the programme with a reminder of the original concept. In 1948, representatives from 50 member states of the United Nations came together under the guidance of Eleanor Roosevelt to devise a list of all the Human Rights that everybody across the world should enjoy. On 10th December 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations announced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – 30 rights and freedoms that belong to us all. These rights and freedoms include the right to asylum, the right to freedom from torture, the right to free speech and the right to education. It includes civil and political rights like the right to life, liberty, free speech and privacy. It also includes the right to social security, health and education. All of this is the core of our belonging to Soroptimist International. The theme for the year is “celebrating inspirational women”. Kate asked four nominated readers to speak and after each reading SILC Region Programme Action Officer Pam Robertson physically lit a candle.

Human Rights 75 Year AnniversaryFirst reader Rosemarie Franklin from SI Newbury “What is the history leading up to the 16 days of Activism?”. A candle was lit to speak out about gender based violence. Click to download the reading Reading 16 days of activism

Second reader Joanna Swift from SI Aylesbury. “Women who died in earthquake in Afghanistan”. A candle was lit to remember human rights the world over. Click to download the reading Reading Earthquake in Afghanistan

Third reader Jenny Vince from SI Oxford. “Working in partnership with Water Aid”. A candle was lit celebrating the work of Soroptimists and partner organisations mitigating the effects of climate change across the world. Click to download the reading Reading Water Aid

Fourth reader Mary Linton from SI Thames Valley. “Facing racism in the workplace” Anita Rani. A candle was lit for the
work of Soroptimists and partner organisations who call out racism and misogyny. Click to download the reading Reading facing racism in workplace

As always this part of the proceedings was very moving because it is at the heart of being a Soroptimist.

Our second speaker was AmickyCarol Akiwumi: “Social Entrepreneur, Experienced Founder and Board Trustee with a demonstrated history of working in leadership of non-profits. Skilled in being a catalyst for change in: Entrepreneurship, Strategy Development, Creative Leadership, Grant Making, Partnerships Building and EDI. My goal is to use my global experience and passion to add value to forward looking organisations that are making a lasting difference to people globally.”

Carol is CEO of Money4YOU who are #WorldChangers to eradicate the economic inequalities experienced by youths and disadvantaged communities because of the colour of their skin or their ethnicity. Carol took us on a journey describing the development of her organisation with the projects being carried out delivering financial literacy classes to more than 2,500 young people in schools and community groups in the UK, Rwanda, Nigeria, Liberia, Cameroon and Zambia.

She spoke passionately about the need to Advocate for Stewardship & Justice to make the world better. She reminded us that Real Change Requires Action and encouraged us to be The Voice of the Unheard and that we must foster Sustainable Change.

To find out details of Money4you visit

You can read more about Carol here:

The work of two clubs was presented:

SI Newbury & District

Rosemarie Franklin detailed the Club’s ongoing support for ATE (Action Through Enterprise) in Lawra in Upper West Ghana.  A key focus is making Pillowslip Dresses ~ wearing the dresses increases the girls’ confidence and means they are less likely to be attacked and violated. The project is a whole club activity. Coloured pillowslips or white patterned ones are turned into simple little dresses: members collect together, some cut out, some machine and others sew on buttons & bows. So far 70 dresses have been supplied. Sarah Gardner, ATE the founder of the charity & its CEO has recently had a book published: “To Lawra with Love”. To find out details of ATE visit

SI Thames Valley

Three Club initiatives were highlighted. Sushi Gow described:

How the club ran a stall at Bourne End Market both to raise awareness about Violence Against Women and the Orange the World Campaign and raise money for Women’s Aid.

As part of the club activities each month, time is given at the club meeting to promote simple environmental projects. Books/ book details re recycling are shared and lists of things to do and programmes to watch are shared. Pill Blister Packs are collected and taken to a local Superdrug store with a pharmacy for recycling.

(NB. A similar imitative between SI St Albans & a local Lions Club has hit a barrier as the store refusing to accept from them anymore because they are being seen as “bulk items”).

A plan to run an Orange Café on 23rd February 2024 at the Methodist Community Coffee Shop in Marlow was described by Kay Heppell; the coffee shop is a community enterprise run by professional catering staff with volunteers including giving those with special needs experience.

Information from Other Clubs:

SI St Albans & District: Speaker Club Meeting 22nd January 2024 on Zoom – Speaker: Judith Leary-Joyce author of “Beginner’s Guide to Eco-Renovation”

SI High Wycombe: Christmas Pamper Boxes packed ready to go.

President Kate Belinis closed this inspirational meeting and invited everyone to join the Region to celebrate International Women’s Day together on Saturday 16th March 2024 12.30pm for 1pm at Knebworth House, Stevenage, Hertfordshire where there will be an opportunity to tour the gardens before visiting Lady Constance Lytton’s Mausoleum, enjoy afternoon tea and listen to a talk on the life of the suffragette  Lady Constance Lytton. Full details to be circulated when available.