Have you heard of the Soroptimists International? They are a group over 75,000 members of hard working professional and business women across 126 countries internationally. Their aim is to help the advancement of women locally and globally. Humans in Geelong caught up with the group to find out more. ‘One of our highlights is hosting the International Women’s Day Breakfast, each year. This year, 136 attended and were treated to hear from Kristi Van Es from the Offspring as our inspirational guest speaker.
SI is an accredited NGO and as such 5 permanent members represent us on the @United Nations.
Being an International network creates many opportunities for members. We call it the Grant of Friendship. Our members are welcomed into the homes of members around the world and we reciprocate. There is a Soroptimist House in Melbourne and in London as well as many cities globally. Check out http://www.sigeelong.org.au/ or http://www.siswp.org.au.
We believe engaging in and giving back to this community is very important. The Pako Festa was started by the Soroptimists seeing a need to recognise Geelong’s vibrant and diverse cultures. This is an example of one of the many activities initiated, that have gone onto become bigger and better.
The Soroptimists focus on:
1/ The Awareness of a need
2/ What Actions we can take
3/ Advocacy for support
Another highlight is the Dinner we held at the Davidson Restaurant at the Gordon after the devastating Nepal Earthquakes. As there is a SI Club in Nepal we were able to get the funds directly to them.
Two of the local projects we are involved in are supplying toiletry and pamper kits and bedding for the Minerva Community Services Project and bursaries for “Karenni” female students girls at North Geelong Secondary College. We’re looking to extend this project by supporting other refugee girls from schools.’
A long standing member Val, is proud of Soroptimist achievements. ‘I loved attending the Convention in San Francisco. I made lifelong friendships. They have hosted me in the States on several occasions and I have hosted them here. I enjoy the fellowship and diversity of the projects, locally and globally, such as digging wells in Senegal, helping landmine victims with prosthesis, skilling girls up in Siam so they didn’t turn to prostitution, helping eliminate genital mutilation of girls in one spot in Africa and training midwives in PNG.’
Dianne who is new to Soroptimist, adding ‘what impressed me is the genuine support and difference we are able to make. I ran it past my daughter who is a Humans Rights Lawyer in Washington DC and she realised what we do could be a game changer in the lives of others.’
‘Soroptimist International of Geelong is made up of about 20 members who meet monthly. We welcome new members, it’d be great if women would come along to give it a try. We also enjoy film nights monthly at St Mary’s Hall to raise funds for our many valuable programs.’
Interview by Jacqui Bennett. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for up-to-date notification of stories.