Soroptimist International

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Soroptimist International
A circular, black and white logo with a style suggesting late Art Nouveau or early Art Deco. Soroptimist International describes it as follows: "The emblem consists of a circular disc on which the figure of a woman holds the banner 'Soroptimist' in uplifted arms, spreading sunrays from the background. [From] the banner on one side fall acorns and leaves of oak and on the other side, leaves of laurel. [The] word 'International' completes the outer circle."[1]
PredecessorSoroptimist Club, Oakland, California (founded 1921)[1][third-party source needed]
Formation1928; 91 years ago (1928)[1][third-party source needed]
TypeNGO
Headquarters87 Glisson Road, Cambridge, CB1 2HG, United Kingdom[2][3][third-party source needed]
Websitehttps://www.soroptimistinternational.org

Soroptimist International (SI) is a worldwide volunteer service organization for women who work for peace, and in particular to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world. Through its General (Category One) Consultative Status as a non-governmental organization at the United Nations, the organization seeks equality, peace, and international goodwill for women.[4][third-party source needed]

Founding and history[edit]

The organization has its roots in the Soroptimist movement, started in the USA in 1921 by Stuart Morrow,[5] and in particular in the Soroptimist Club of Oakland, California, founded that same year,[6][1] with Violet Richardson as president.[6]

Sources agree that the Soroptimist movement was influenced by the existence of Rotarianism, but differ on the precise relationship between the two. For instance, Davis, in reference to early Soroptimism in the USA, writes that "Soroptimism was a women's organization connected to the Rotary Clubs for men that promoted the support of professional women as well as the ideals of service and internationalism."[7] By contrast, Doughan writes, "The Soroptimist movement in Britain originally arose as a reaction against Rotarian and other masculinism among women who saw similar opportunities for service, but had no connection with Rotary men, or even if they did, were unwilling to accept the subordinate position implied by the structure of the Inner Wheel."[5]

The Soroptimist Club of London was started in 1923 and received its charter in 1924 from Morrow.[5] Its founding members included George Bernard Shaw's secretary.[5] Other early members included Sybil Thorndike, Flora Drummond, and Mary Allen.[5]

From 1924 onwards, Suzanne Noël was highly instrumental in the growth of Soroptimism.[5] Inspired by Morrow, who had come to Paris, Noël founded a Soroptimist Club in that city that year,[5] whose membership included Thérèse Bertrand-Fontaine, Cécile Brunschvicg, Anna de Noailles, and Jeanne Lanvin.[6] With the support of her Soroptimist contacts, Noël rapidly expanded Soroptimist internationally,[6][5] founding new clubs in the Netherlands (1927),[6] Italy (1929),[6] Austria (1929),[6] Germany (1930),[6] Belgium (1930),[6] Switzerland (1930),[6] Estonia (1931),[6] India (1932),[6] Norway (1933),[6] Hungary (1934),[6] and Denmark (1936).[6] The inauguration of the first Lithuanian club was interrupted by the start of WWII.[6]

Prior to WWII, Soroptimists worked to assist refugees fleeing unrest in central Europe.[5] Many Soroptimists themselves ultimately fled from the Nazis' consolidation of power, to seek safety elsewhere.[5][8] Some were less fortunate. In 1939, many members of the burgeoning Kaunas club were killed or deported.[6] In 1943, Marthe Hirsch, director of the Martougin Chocolate factories and the first president of the Belgian Soroptimist Club, committed suicide to avoid arrest by the Gestapo.[6]

After WWII, Noël resumed expansion. Her attempt to found a club in Czechoslovakia in 1948 was prevented by the Communist coup, but she was successful in Turkey (1949) and Greece (1950).[6]

By 1952, at least one club existed in Australia,[9] under the auspices of the Federation of Soroptimist Clubs of Great Britain and Ireland,[9] which included clubs throughout the Commonwealth.[citation needed] Thelma Eileen Jarrett joined this club in 1952 and became a prominent international Soroptimist, being elected president of that Federation in 1972.[9] In 1973, in Sydney, Australia, she chaired the first conference of the Federation to be held in the southern hemisphere.[9]

C. 1988-1990,[10][11] efforts by Soroptimists led to the founding of Caring for Carers Ireland.[12][13]

At the World Summit for Social Development in March 1995, Soroptimist International advocated for girls and women to have universal access to basic education and equal access to higher education.[14] It urged that summit to ensure that specific measures to achieve that goal would emerge from the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, September 1995).[14]

In the 2000s, Soroptimist International repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the Beijing Declaration,[15][16][17][18] which emerged from the latter conference.

At least as early as 2003, Soroptimist International had gained consultative status with ECOSOC and official relations with the WHO.[19]

In 2007, Soroptimist International initiated Project Sierra, a four-year project[20][21] to help disadvantaged women and children in Sierra Leone, in partnership with the international charity Hope and Homes for Children.[22][23][24]

As of 2016, the Soroptimist movement continued to advocate for women's independence, and to provide practical assistance for women in need via means such as educational grants, domestic violence shelters, and mammograms.[6]

Mission and principles[edit]

A girl, reading intently. A dog and a doll lie on the ground behind her.
A Gambian girl whose education was provided for by Soroptimist International

The Mission Statement of the organization is:[4]

Through international partnerships and a global network of members, Soroptimists inspire action and create opportunities to transform the lives of women and girls by: Advocating for equity and equality; Creating safe and healthy environments; Increasing access to education; Developing leadership and practical skills for a sustainable future.

The principles of Soroptimism are to strive for:[1]

  • The advancement of the status of women,
  • High ethical standards,
  • Human rights for all,
  • Equality, development and peace, and
  • The advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace.

Structure and size[edit]

Soroptimist International is an umbrella organisation, with its headquarters in Cambridge, UK.[25]

Within this umbrella, there are four Federations:[25] SI of the Americas (SIA);[25] SI Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI); SI of Europe; SI of South West Pacific.[citation needed]

Each of these Federations in turn contain local clubs.

c. 1995, Soroptimist International had approximately 95,000 members in over 2,800 clubs in ninety-five countries or territories.[26] These members contribute time and financial support to community-based and international projects.[4][third-party source needed]

c. 2019, SI of the Americas had almost 30,000 members in 1,300 clubs in 21 countries.[27] It has 30 staff at its headquarters in Philadelphia, PA USA with a budget of $6– 8M.[27]

Name[edit]

The name "Soroptimist" was coined by combining the Latin words soror "sister" and optima "best", and can be taken to mean "best for women".[7]

Notable members[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Certification of Incorporation". Beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Contact Soroptimist International". Soroptimist International. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  3. ^ "S I (SOROPTIMIST INTERNATIONAL) LIMITED - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b c SI History. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Doughan, David; Gordon, Peter (24 January 2007). "Women, Clubs and Associations in Britain". Routledge. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Martin, Paula J. (9 March 2016). "Suzanne Noël: Cosmetic Surgery, Feminism and Beauty in Early Twentieth-Century France". Routledge. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ a b c Davis, Kathy (1 October 2017). "Dubious Equalities and Embodied Differences: Cultural Studies on Cosmetic Surgery". Rowman & Littlefield. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Martin, Paula J. (9 March 2016). "Suzanne Noël: Cosmetic Surgery, Feminism and Beauty in Early Twentieth-Century France". Routledge. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ a b c d e Langmore, Diane (30 November 2007). "Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1981-1990". The Miegunyah Press. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ "New carers group launched in Ennis". Clareherald.com. 13 March 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  11. ^ Webmaster (10 February 2015). "Merger confirmed for Ennis-based Carers group". Clareherald.com. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  12. ^ "25 years of caring in Clare – The Clare Champion". clarechampion.ie. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  13. ^ Power, Andrew (1 October 2017). "Landscapes of Care: Comparative Perspectives on Family Caregiving". Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ a b Nielsen, Poul (1 July 1998). "Social Priorities of Civil Society: Speeches by Non-Governmental Organizations at the World Summit for Social Development". DIANE Publishing. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "International Geneva Yearbook 2001/2002". United Nations Publications. 1 October 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ "International Geneva Yearbook: Organization and Activities of International Institutions in Geneva". United Nations Publications. 1 October 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ Section, UN Office at Geneva Sales and Marketing (1 October 2017). "International Geneva Yearbook 2003-2004: Organization and Activities of International Institutions in Geneva". United Nations Publications. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ Geneva, United Nations Office in; (Geneva), Eco'Diagnostic (1 September 2004). "International Geneva Yearbook 2004-2005". United Nations Publications. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ "International Geneva Yearbook: Organization and Activities of International Institutions in Geneva". United Nations Publications. 1 October 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  20. ^ "American expat finds Sierra Leone heritage". The Japan Times. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  21. ^ "Local Soroptimist Members Attend International Convention in Scotland - Santa Clarita Magazine". Santaclaritamagazine.com. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  22. ^ Project SIerra. Retrieved 17 July 2012. Archived September 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Duong, Thyda (16–29 September 2008). "Soroptimist International: "The Best For Women"" (PDF). Long Beach Business Journal.
  24. ^ Examiner, Huddersfield (17 February 2009). "MEMBERS of the Soroptimist International held a fundraising Curry Night to support Project Sierra". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  25. ^ a b c Nour, David (3 October 2013). "Return on Impact: Leadership Strategies for the Age of Connected Relationships". John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  26. ^ Slavin, Sarah (1 October 1995). "U.S. Women's Interest Groups: Institutional Profiles". Greenwood Publishing Group. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  27. ^ a b Nour, David (3 October 2013). "Return on Impact: Leadership Strategies for the Age of Connected Relationships". John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  28. ^ a b c Langmore, Diane (30 November 2007). "Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1981-1990". The Miegunyah Press. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Binheim, Max; Elvin, Charles A. (1928). Women of the West: A Series of Biographical Sketches of Living Eminent Women in the Eleven Western States of the United States of America. Los Angeles: Publishers Press. Retrieved August 6, 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  30. ^ a b c "Mary Elizabeth Pickup". first100years.org.uk.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]