2021 Marks the Centenary of Soroptimist International.
Throughout the world, clubs have been asked to mark this momentous occasion by planting trees in their local areas.
Another special occasion happening soon is National Tree Week, the UK’s largest tree celebration, marking the start of the winter tree planting season (November to March each year). This year, 2020, it is taking place from 28th Nov. to 6th Dec.
Soroptimists of Perth are marking both these occasions with the planting of a Silver Birch tree on Perth South Inch. Under the expert hands of Highland Forestry, our tree was planted on 24th Nov. 2020 and is, at the present time inside a supportive frame. A plaque is being prepared and will adorn the tree or frame once it is ready. If anyone would like to go and visit the tree before winter sets in, the spot where it is planted is marked on the map below. Picture 1 shows our little sapling in its supportive frame.
16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM 25th Nov. to 10th Dec. 2020
16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to 10th December, Human Rights Day.
This year, 2020, activities will take place under the UN Global Theme: Orange the World, Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect. The UNITE campaign, under the leadership of the UN Secretary-General, calls for global actions to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts, and share knowledge and innovations.
FACT – up to 70% of women experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.
We can all make a difference during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and protracted state of crisis it has generated across the world. We can support women and girl survivors of violence to stay safe and free of violence. SI Perth members have a number of initiatives planned, including the production and distribution of 8,000 bookmarks, at present being distributed amongst secondary school pupils across Perth & Kinross. We have also approached Perth & Kinross Council to ask for the Old Perth Bridge (Smeaton’s Bridge) and the Council Chambers to be lit up in Orange lights during the 16 Days of Activism.
More ideas are being considered and we will report back on our involvement at the end of the Campaign. Watch this space!! (Update on our Front Page – 4th Dec. 2020)
SCOTLAND NORTH REGION MEETING SAT. 21ST NOV. 2020
Six SI Perth members attended the Region Meeting on Saturday which began with a Business meeting, followed by a very interesting speaker. There were a total of 54 participants, with a number of members from all the SI Clubs in Scotland present. Our join Regional Presidents, Katie Lang and Pat Stewart chaired the meeting very successfully with information being imparted about the Benevolent Fund (a request to remind members about this fund), an update on the 16 Days of Activism which is just about to commence, Reports on both Programme Action activities and club meetings from each club circulated, a discussion on the Empowering Girls in Nepal project, a challenge set to all clubs to try to raise £100 for our Diamond Education Grant, and much more. It was good to see old friends and a number of new members joining in for the first time, and three Associate members present. Guests from Scotland South region were in attendance as well.
The Business meeting was followed by speaker Morven McGillivray from Mary’s Meals giving us a very insightful report on what her charity are doing at the present time. Some of the stats she quoted to us included: 50 million children don’t get the chance to go to school, with Liberia having the 4th highest number of children out of school, £15.90 is the amount it takes to feed a child for a whole year with Mary’s Meals, and 50% of recipients of Mary’s Meals are girls. The children receive a type of nutritional porridge for their meal when they attend school and, with the closure of schools due to Covid-19, the charity has had to set up feeding stations to keep feeding the children. There was a plea for help with funding, with UK Aid doubling all donations made to Mary’s Meals up until 31st January 2021. Their back-packs’ project is on hold for the present time, but they are still in need of monetary donations to keep feeding their 1.4 million children.
Below are a couple of pictures of our Region Zoom meeting where everyone wore orange to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25th November.
INSPIRING SPEAKER AT OUR OCTOBER CLUB MEETING
On 27th Oct. 2020, members were delighted to welcome speaker Dorothea Christiana from UNA-UK (United Nations Association of the UK)
Dorothea came with some amazing credentials including:
- a Delegate at UN meetings in NY
- Elected-Trustee of United Nations Association of the UK
- Chair of the United Nations Association of Scotland and Director of Strategy for its outreach arm the UN House of Scotland
- completed Doctoral Research on the UN and Civil Society
- Authored a number of books including two books on the topic of the UN and Civil Society
- a speaker on a number of topics such as Global Trade at Europe’s Largest Model United Nations at Oxford University with over 600 in Attendance
- worked together with Government and Civil Society to embed the SDGs in the National Performance Framework and prepare the Volunteer National Report, known as the VNR, which identifies the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals from a national perspective
- Strategy Committee Member of the UK National Alliance of Women’s Organisations that works towards progressive actions on UN agendas
- Steering Committee Member of the Scotland SDG Network
- Advisor of the Scottish Universities Insight Institute
- United Nations Committee Member of the International Federation of Human Ecologists
- Active Member of the 2nd Enlightenment Movement
Dorothea’s presentation was entitled Global to Personal, National to Personal
An inspiring speaker, Dorothea took us through the work of the UN on the Sustainable Development Goals, first introduced in 2012. She reported on how the impact of Covid-19 has caused a setback for the goals, with poverty, education, shortage of food, job losses, closure of businesses and health systems etc. all affected.
However, Dorothea very skilfully brought the problems down from a global level to personal involvement, giving us a huge range of ideas on how the everyday things we do can made such a difference, e.g. choosing wisely while shopping, i.e. being aware of stores’ supply chains, choosing eco-friendly products, buying products with less packaging, avoiding single use products, recycling and re-using, being aware of how our behaviour can so easily influence others and many more. She recommended consuming less meat and suggested meatless Mondays as a way of doing it, also to use parchment or silicone mats instead of tin foil, and many more simple, personal ways for us to be involved in helping the SDG’s get back on track.
We heard too about Dorothea’s involvement in the CSW’s (Commission on the Status of Women) Annual Conventions and the positive global impact that these Conventions can achieve. Soroptimist International send delegates to these Conventions each year.
Our speaker talked us through an event with UN House Scotland – a Scottish Women’s Convention where the core theme was Gender Equality, bringing to life the work of the women attending. The attendees were there to help identify a set of priorities on Gender Equality for Scotland which should become part of the regulations in due course. Working together, creating more impact as a partnership.
Members enjoyed Dorothea’s presentation enormously, with many sending our secretary some very complimentary views on the quality of our speaker.
SPEAKING TO OUR WORLD-WIDE PARTNERS ON ZOOM
In June 2020, SI Pune Metro East President, Renu Bardhwaj invited SI Perth to join her club in a Zoom Meeting. Nine Friendship Links from all over the world, including the UK, the Caribbean, Europe accepted the invitation and took the opportunity to join with fellow Soroptimists and find out how their clubs were faring during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Avril Duncan attended the meeting on behalf of SI Perth.
Prior to the meeting we were given the brief of preparing a report that answered the following questions:
- What strategy did your club employ to mitigate the difficulties experienced during the pandemic?
- How did your club reach out to the under-priviledged? What were the challenges your club faced and how did you overcome them?
Each club had prepared an excellent report and we built up a fascinating picture of the activities being carried out in each area to help people in need.
SI Pune Metro East (SI PME) had three speakers. Speaker 1 was Neerja who gave an overview of SI PME’s activities during the outbreak. Speaker 2 was Rohini who spoke to us about making masks at home. Speaker 3 was Meela, talking about economically empowering women in these trying times.
Renu, President of SI PME closed the meeting with a heartwarming reminder not to take our friendship for granted. We always say that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder, but these unprecedented times have proved that we need to appreciate our friends and connect with them to find out everyone is coping in these trying times.
A wonderful experience which we hope is repeated soon.
CLIMATE CHANGE WEBINAR
In August 2020, Soroptimists of Madurai, India hosted a very successful webinar on Climate Change for members worldwide. Around 130 ladies took part, from every corner of the globe – including USA, England, Florida, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, San Fernando, Belgium, Cape of Good Hope, Durban, Antibes, Alaska, Scotland, Caribbean, Malaysia and Australia to name but a very few.
Fifteen speakers took part, giving an overview of the effects of climate change in their own part of the world, and also providing a glimpse at the diverse, essential work being undertaken by Soroptimists everywhere. Presentations were made on soil erosion, plastic management, solid waste management, water solutions, greenhouse gas emissions in Australia where the worrying fact emerged that the koala bear could be extinct by 2050 if things continue as they are.
We heard from Tania Gomez from Belgium who spoke on nature and landscaping in Belgium with ideas on how to reduce CO2 emissions and reforestation projects. Dr. Sally Enos from SI Bombay and Mumbai explained how her club is encouraging zero waste, knowing that Mumbai tops the list for solid waste leading to greenhouse gasses.
From SI Bangalore, speaker Shashikala Menon gave us a presentation on the work of her club members on restoration and rejuvenation of lakes in Bangalore which are disappearing fast, a worry that we heard from many other areas of the world.
Many speakers addressed the problems of plastic bags and the use of fossil fuels causing heavy floods, again a common problem throughout the globe. Flooding was a major topic, with Shreelatha Narayanan from SI Chennai reporting that the Bay of Bengal is rising, with the heavy rains leading to a scarcity of food and clean water, introducing bacteria and viruses. Droughts, powerful storms, heatwaves, wildfires, ocean temperatures rising – we heard about them all.
SI Clubs worldwide are working hard to help with reforestation, reclamation of lakes, introducing renewable energy, solar power, water harvesting projects, cutting down traffic pollution, and so many other projects, both huge and small, each vitally important to stop the effects of climate change. Clubs in Britain this year are helping to plant new trees, our SIGBI Centenary project.
All in all, a fabulous Webinar which brought home the message to us all – that the world needs to act quickly, starting with each country, each community, and each person – starting with YOU !!
If you feel passionately about the effects of global warming and climate change, come and join us in our Soroptimist clubs and help us to be part of the solution to this worldwide problem.
SI Perth are planting a silver birch in November on the South Inch to commemorate the SIGBI Centenary
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE – 21st SEPTEMBER 2020
Another virtual meeting took place on 21st Sept. to celebrate International Day of Peace. Three members of SI Perth attended this inspiring meeting. Report below.
REPORT ON SHAPING PEACE TOGETHER ZOOM CONFERENCE, MON. 21ST SEPT. 2020
HOSTED BY SI PUNE METRO EAST
More than 20 ladies from clubs in India and some Friendship Link clubs from around the world attended this Zoom Conference. Anjaly Banarji, Programme Action Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting, as did Binita Sen, President of SI PME.
Dr. Anupama Sen, SI PME Friendship Link Officer read the Peace Pledge.
There were 3 main speakers of the day and each did a presentation.
First speaker was Dr. Surekha Bhalerao who spoke on seeking happiness, the wonders of wellness and reasons to be grateful. Dr. Bhalerao gave us coping mechanisms for when problems overpower us. For example:
- Ask ‘so what?’ to problem 3 times. The answer each time should dissipate slightly and 3rd time should be easier to cope with
- Stop watching ‘the same old movie’ i.e. no more flashbacks of things that upset us.
- Try to be positive – take deep breaths to recoup your energy, let go negative thoughts, claim power back.
If you do these things for 21 consecutive days, this should help to re-wire your brain into more positive thinking and give you a sense of wellness.
Second speaker was Dr. Naina Athalye, Friendship link Officer from SI Poona. Naina gave her presentation on encouraging creativity through the arts, which can lead to a sense of achievement, to satisfaction, to happiness and to a sense of peacefulness as we enjoy something beautiful. She led us in a time of meditation to help us gain relaxation techniques and achieve a sense of peace within ourselves.
The last speaker was Charu Mudholkar, who also spoke about Inner Peace. To gain strength and confidence in ourselves she recommended:
- Spending time with nature, outdoors
- Doing good deeds
- Regular physical exercise
- We should try to do 5 new things every day – whether it be through reading, noticing, walking, watching or hearing something new.
She said our motto should be ‘This too shall pass’. Charu also told us that we all had an average of 14,000 thoughts a day – (wondered who counted this??)
Meditation was a thread running through the meeting with two of the speakers taking us through a meditation session – most enjoyable. In a time when many countries in the world are at war, and many people are very troubled in their lives, meditation can give us a time of standing back from these problems and ultimately give us a sense of peacefulness.
Each speaker stressed that universal peace was something that began within ourselves.
ROCK CHOIR CONCERT – MARCH 2020
We were so fortunate in March when the concert we had arranged went ahead just before lockdown. Perth Rock Choir gave an excellent performance in front of an almost full house and combined with a raffle on the night, a very lucrative amount of money was added to our pot to be donated to local charities.
25 YEARS’ CERTIFICATE
Many congratulations, Sybil.
Because of a change of address, Sybil is transferring to our Crieff Club and we wish her all the best with her new club.