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2022 Dec – Hilary’s Wise Words

Education; Education; Education – not a cry from a politician but from Soroptimists all over the world. Through our commitment to educate, empower and enable women and girls, we recognise that without proper education we will never address the gender balance and without that we will never achieve peace and development.

The UN states that educating women and girls throughout their life will produce better health outcomes, fuel economic growth and ensure peaceful and stable societies.

This involves a recognition that access to STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are essential and without this there is no way we will achieve SDG’s 4 and 5 by 2030. Listening to the talks at the SIGBI conference in Belfast in October reinforced the importance of this focus.

Leigh Ellwood Brown, SI Director of Advocacy, stressed that women at the present rate of progress would not achieve gender equality for another 300 years. The pandemic, violent conflict, climate change and access to adequate sexual and reproductive rights are all impeding this progress. The only way forward is for education to build back better and this will accelerate the achievement of the 2030 agenda.

Dr Tara Shine urged us to:

  • Mentor
  • Support womens’ voices
  • Collaborate
  • Shine a light on womens’ achievements
  • Use data and facts
  • Accept diversity

So where and how can we act?

Many clubs are doing just that recognising particularly that girls do not achieve access to or success in STEM subjects. This is detrimental to sustainable development as so much of our progress is due to basic science. “The applications of basic sciences are vital for advances in medicine, industry, agriculture, water resour ces, energy planning, environment, communications and culture” – UN General Assembly 2nd December 2021.

The Leeds club, following on from the initiative of clubs like Weston-super-Mare, have run a STEM day in a local school to encourage young women into this area of education. Our newest club, SI Libertas, which is an e-club, recognising this lack in girls` education, are conducting a survey to identify whether support or change is needed for women to be able to continue interest in STEM subjects through the work place and establishing themselves in STEM fields of expertise.

The priority theme for CSW 67 (Commission on the Status of Women) which runs from 6-17th March 2023 is “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”.

Why not register online with them and join in to increase your knowledge and understanding and then as the challenge from world science day suggests, contribute to understanding the many ways in which science can broaden our understanding of the planet we call home and our health and well being to make our societies and the experience of women and girls more equitable, sustainable and resilient.

Something we all as Soroptimists believe in!

Hilary Ratcliffe OBE
Past International Programme Director