The Soroptimists are a network of women across the world who are committed to transforming the lives of women and girls through education, empowerment and the enablement of opportunity.
Founded in 1921, there are now over 3000 clubs worldwide, with nearly 90,000 members in 123 countries.
Last weekend was the AGM of the Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) Federation, a group of 355 clubs from 29 countries. The conference attracted over 2,500 women from four continents.
The conference theme was ‘Delivering the Difference' and attracted some high profile speakers who have all made a profound contribution to their different fields.
Earlier this year, Child.org and the Canterbury Club put together a proposal for the SIGBI Federation Project 2016-19. The proposal was shortlisted to the final three out of 17 that were entered. The three shortlisted projects were invited to present to the conference, which was then followed by a live vote to select the winning project.
Three of us presented together: Carol Townsend, who had taken joint lead on the original application; Yvonne Freeman, Canterbury President-elect; and me, having visited the project in Kenya earlier this year.
It was a challenge: we had only five minutes to talk about a project that will train and develop thousands of women and girls in Meru County, Kenya. We worked together brilliantly and our practice paid off. We received the majority share of the vote and together we’ll be launching the project on 8th March 2016; International Women’s Day.
The project is called Meru Women’s Garden, led by Child.org’s partner in Kenya, Community Initiatives for Rural Development, or CIFORD. CIFORD trains women in improved agricultural practices, providing tools, skills and support. This project empowers women living in poverty through education, enabling them to support themselves and their families.
We will also be providing a secondary school with agricultural training and breakfast clubs to improve school attendance and educational outputs.
Margaret Ikiara, Founder and Director of CIFORD, is delighted with the news and said:
"Our appreciation go to the SI Canterbury for accepting to partner with Child.org and CIFORD for the Meru Women Garden Project. We are so grateful and the women danced and sung praises when we shared with them the good news."
Thanks to the Canterbury club for such a unique opportunity and for their warmth and encouragement throughout the process.
Thanks also to SIGBI members for supporting our bid; the whole team at Child.org can’t wait to get started on delivering the difference to women in Meru!
It truly was an honour to be able to share our work with so many women with ideals so close to my own. This is just the beginning.