SI in shock about the situation in Haiti

Soroptimist International of the Americas joins the world community in expressing shock and concern about the situation in Haiti. The devastation caused by the earthquake—in an already extremely poor country—is horrific. Tens of thousands of people are dead, and more than 1/3 of Haiti’s citizens are now homeless.

Because Haiti is part of Soroptimist’s European federation, Soroptimist International of the Americas has made a donation of $10,000 to Soroptimist International of Europe to support immediate disaster relief efforts for women and girls.

SIA knows from experience that women and girls will be disproportionately vulnerable to the effects because of existing gender inequalities that are magnified during and following any disaster. To that end, Soroptimist International of the Americas maintains a Disaster Recovery Fund to provide for projects ensuring that women and girls have the support and resources necessary to rebuild their lives and their communities. Concerned Soroptimists and other individuals are urged to contribute to the Disaster Recovery Fund to replenish the initial donation and to fund future projects to help women and girls in Haiti recover from this disaster. For more information, please read Soroptimist International of the Americas’ white paper: “Reaching Out to Women When Disaster Strikes.”

Donations can be sent to Soroptimist International of the Americas headquarters, earmarked “disaster recovery.” Members may contribute securely online ». Look for the “disaster recovery” donation line, and indicate “Haiti Disaster Recovery” in the notes section.

2nd Annual Art Contest

Art Contest

Art Contest

Soroptimist is pleased to announce its second annual Live Your Dream Art Contest. This year, Soroptimist invites boy and girl students, from ages 4 to 18, to draw a present-day woman who inspires them. She can be someone the student knows personally, or a prominent woman he or she admires. If chosen as a finalist, the student’s artwork will be students will be viewed by thousands on the Soroptimist Live Your Dream Campaign website and the students will be eligible to win a cash prize for themselves and their schools. Get details »

54th Sessionof CSW at the UN in New York

The 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at the United Nations in New York City, March 1-12, 2010. The commission will undertake the 15-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) and the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly (2000). In addition, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women will hold the NGO Global Forum for Women: Beijing +15 on February 27-28. Soroptimists are invited to participate in both meetings (at their own expense). Contact Lori at SIA-HQ for details.

TO Multicultural Women’s Fair

This year’s Toronto Soroptimist Multicultural Women’s Fair. The event takes place on Saturday, October 24 at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church, near Bloor & Spadina, from 11 to 5. There will be entertainment and refreshments and fair trade items from around the world, with sales supporting women from various countries, in addition to representation from a number of agencies supporting women.

For more information, download the flyer »

Have you taken the SIA Snapshot online survey?

You are invited to take the June 2009 Soroptimist Snapshot online survey. Look for the link in your email this week.

There are just 7 quick questions and should only take about 5 minutes of your time. The intent of this survey is to gauge interest and satsifaction in their quarterly publication of the Best for Women magazine. Some of the questions are multiple choice with an opportunity to write what you’d like see improved in future editions. I find the most helpful section is the Renaissance Campaign tips/tricks. They are very helpful for SOLT and generate new ideas for the committee chairs.

For more information on the results, visit the Soroptimist International of the America’s membership section in the members area (scroll to the very bottom: Soroptimist Snapshot Survey Reports and open the MSWord docs).

There are also polls in the general members area that you can participate in (see the right side panel). One example is: Would your club pay a nominal fee for customized services from headquarters (e.g., personalized ads and brochures, meeting planning)? As of today there have been 596 votes: Yes 47% | No 53%. What’s your opinion?



The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Two new working groups have been set up by the 42nd and 43rd session of CEDAW. One on the “Rights of Older Women” and the second on the “The Economic Consequences of Divorce”.

This is important because CEDAW is a “Binding Convention” for those UN countries that have ratified the general recommendations of the CEDAW Committee. These two important areas will now also receive attention in the member state reports and the work of CEDAW, whose committee consists of 23 experts on women’s rights from around the world.

For more information, visit Women’s UN Report Program & Network (WUNRN) or the UN Division for the Advancement of Women

FAO Conference in Rome- Its all about Food and Hunger

An excerpt from Assistant Programme Director Margaret Cook’s report as our SI UN Rep to Rome – Else recently went to Rome for the Annual Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference for FAO. Read more on the Soroptimist Programme Blog »

Sustainable agriculture – learning from women! There was an acknowledgment that women are often the farmers – particularly in the South – and a valuable asset for developing good practice in sustainable agriculture.

I attended COAG (Spanish: Livestock and Farmers Cooperative) with Else Larsen, our UN Representative at FAO. We did a lot of networking – establishing useful links and ensuring that the work of Soroptimists is known well in FAO. The Gender Equity Department was particularly helpful – they were very interested in what we achieve and I know that this contact will help us develop our presence at FAO.

Margaret Cook
SI Assistant Programme Director

Restoring Dignity Update: Cafe Juniper Opens

Excerpt from the Soroptimist International  Blog »

Our new Juniper Café is soon to be opened near the lake at Desta Mender, and set among many juniper trees! It is near our teaching or conference centre where we hope to attract groups, who want a pleasant place to hold a day conference, and where they can buy food from our café. We are enormously grateful to the Soroptimist International organisation for raising all the money for this café through the 2007 and 2008 President’s Day Appeals, called “Restoring Dignity”. We want to thank the President of the Soroptimists for those 2 years, Margaret Lobo, for choosing the Hospital to be the recipient of this large donation – which also paid for a hard-top vehicle for use at Desta Mender. We hope Ms. Lobo will visit us for some celebrations in May or June and will then be able to unveil a plaque in the café telling of the assistance provided by so many Soroptimist women.

We are sure this will be a great attraction, not only to help us financially, but to make known the plight of so many fistula sufferers in this great country.

Dr E. Catherine Hamlin AC

About Desta Mender: Rural Village for patients who cannot be completely cured

A small number of patients (about 3% of those treated) are so badly damaged in childbirth that they cannot be cured. These patients are fitted with an external bag for their urine. Continuing medical care is essential. Yet despite this affliction, most of the patients are able, and want to do some light work.

In 2000, the Ethiopian Government gave the hospital a parcel of 21 hectares (60 acres) of rural land outside of Addis Ababa for them to build a “self-help” village for these patients. A large dam to provide water for the gardens and livestock, has been built.

A “Design Plan” for the overall development of the site was prepared by an Australian Architect, Mr Ridley Smith. An Ethiopian firm of Architects, Abba Associates from Addis Ababa, has supervised the construction.

The building development of the village has been completed. Patients are moving into occupation. The village will initially provide accommodation for 100 women. There are ten self-contained cottages. Each cottage accommodates ten patients. A supervisor lives on-site and there is adequate staffing.

The residents of the Village are being taught skills in agriculture, farming and craft work.

Come and help celebrate a 30th anniversary!

Join us on Wednesday June 10, 2009 at the Waterfront Centre in Hamilton at 7p.m. to celebrate the 30th anniversary of SI Hamilton-Burlington.

Tickets are $30 which includes great jazz music by the Suzanne Ramsay Trio and guest appearance by jazz dancer John Charles Vaughan.

  • door prizes and raffles
  • canape buffet with a cash bar

All proceeds will go to our ongoing service projects supporting women and girls in our community. Please wear your pearls!!! View the flyer for more information »

You can purchase your tickets through our president Barb.