Skip links


History of Soroptimist International

History of Soroptimist International

The Soroptimist Name

The first question we are often asked about Soroptimist International is: “but what does it mean?”

The name Soroptimist was coined from the Latin soror meaning sister, andoptima meaning best. Soroptimist is perhaps best interpreted as ‘the best for women’. From the founding of the first Soroptimist club in Oakland, California, in 1921, through to the present day where over 3000 clubs are flourishing throughout the world, Soroptimists have continued to strive to achieve ‘the best for women’ in every sphere of their lives.

SI History

1921

First Soroptimist club founded in Oakland, California. The Founder President was Violet Richardson Ward. 

1924

Chartering of first Soroptimist club in London. The Founder President was Viscountess Falmouth.

Suzanne Nöel founded SI Paris, the first Soroptimist club in Europe. She later became the first President of the European Federation. 

1928

Foundation of American and European Federations. Soroptimist International Association created to provide link between the Federations. 

1934

Europe and Great Britain & Ireland form separate Federations. 

1937

First Soroptimist club in Sydney, Australia. 

1948

Soroptimist International Association awarded Consultative status with UNESCO. 

1950

SI awarded category C Consultative status with ECOSOC. (Economic & Social Council, United Nations.) 

1952

Foundation of International governing body of Soroptimist International. 

1978

Inauguration of SI South West Pacific Federation. The Founder President was Mary Whitehead. 

1984

SI granted Category 1 Consultative status (now General Consultative Status) with ECOSOC.

Latest News

President Isobel’s August 2020 Message

I attended the 4 days of the Soroptimist International Board Meeting from Monday 27th July…

Programme Director’s August 2020 Message

Gender Balance/Equity Gender balance refers to “an equitable distribution of life’s opportunities and resources between…

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons – 30 July 2020 (Kim Ann Williamson)

I am pleased that I can write my first blog for SIGBI for World Day…