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July 2021 – 100 years – Period dignity – Mental health – Violence against women – EdUKaid award


Soroptimist Movement

1981 saw the Diamond Jubilee of Soroptimist International.


The Clubs in Southern England commissioned a stained glass window for Guildford Cathedral.  It was dedicated on 6 September 1981.








1984 saw the launch of the Soroptimist International  President’s Biennial Appeal. Clubs around the world contribute to the chosen campaign for two years.  The results are always impressive in terms of the funds raised and results on the ground.

The current appeal targets the elimination of female genital mutilation – more about the Road to Equality here 

Mission and values

Projects and appeals come and go, but the fundamental mission and values of Soroptimist International remain the same:

At the SIGBI Federation Conference in 1991, President Jane Dowell of SI Taunton reminded members that the best way for Soroptimists  to reach their goals is to serve communities everywhere in a spirit of friendship.   And Soroptimists gain a broader outlook on world problems because they can speak directly with their sisters in other countries.


During the decade:

Women’s health was a major focus: hormone replacement therapy began; thinning bones (osteoporosis) in older women was a major concern.

Soroptimists helped to establish the North West Surrey branch of the National Osteoporosis Society in Woking.  Woking member Joan Everett, a ward sisterinterested in women’s health, led the campaign.  SI Woking organised the inaugural meeting  of the new branch.

1983 – SI Woking’s Community Service Project was to set up a Town Twinning Link for the Borough of Woking.  Members were instrumental in establishing the Woking Town Twinning Club (now the WTTA) and served on the committee for several years.

1987 – Elmbridge Soroptimists organised  Caribbean evening and helped to raise £1,900 for the Julie Andrews Arterial Scanner Appeal for St Peter’s Hospital.

1988 – After looking for nearly three years, Salisbury Soroptimists found a suitable base for their proposed Women’s Refuge.  Beckingsale House was established and run for several years by a management committee that included five Soroptimists.

Soroptimists in Elmbridge and Woking helped to fund the first bone scanner (to detect thinning bones) for St Peter’s Hospital. The scanner was installed in 1991.

Status of Women

During the 1980s, women expected to have jobs and careers. Soroptimists championed career guidance for girls (our members recall a definite lack of choice in the careers suggested to girls before that).  The Economist magazine remarked in a July 2021 article: “Feminism arrived late last century, when the publisher [Mills & Boon] advised aspiring authors that the heroine ‘need not be a career girl’, but might have a job, even an ‘unfeminine-sounding one’, such as doctor”.

During the decade, some women broke through:  Jennie Murray started to present Woman’s Hour in 1987.  Our long-serving member, Anne Ansell, was Mayor of Woking in 1989-90.

The thorny issue of ‘home duties v work duties’ began to raise its head.  One of the speakers in the SI Woking 1985-6 programme talked on the topic of ‘A Woman’s Priorities’…

There were calls to reduce discrimination and underlying biases in a variety of sectors.  Soroptimists pinpointed a lack of equality in sport.  The members of SI Staffordshire Moorlands did a survey of cars to see if they were designed with women in mind – still a live topic today!

Period dignity

Following the recent announcement about combating period poverty in Surrey:  Woking Magazine has details of the new scheme to make period products available.  Please share this information widely!

Mental Health

If you are in Surrey and you have mental health issues, you can self-refer to get help quickly.

Dr Gisela Unsworth of MindMatters told us at our July Soroptimist Action meeting how the NHS is improving access to psychological therapies in our area.  A wide range of help is on offer and MindMatters aims to respond to a call for help within days.

Violence against women

The UK government is preparing a new law. (the Police Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill).  Soroptimists are concerned about the extraction power clauses in Part 2 Chapter 3  because it will not treat rape victims properly.  More here

Following the murder of Sarah Everard, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, will announce a new police role aimed at protecting women better.  Read the BBC article here.

You can get help and advice are available from:

the Forced Marriage Unit, tel 0207 0080151 or 150

Karma Nirvana helps those at risk of honour-based abuse: Tel. 0800 5999 247

National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000247 (24 hours)


Congratulations EdUKaid!  EdUKaid has won the 2021 UK Charity Governance Award for ‘Improving Impact in Small Charities’. The award recognises the contribution of EdUKaid’s trustees.  They have really helped to sustain the efforts of the charity to transform the lives of vulnerable children in rural Tanzania.  SI Woking supports the Heshima Project of EdUKaid.