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.SI History
Retrieved 17 July 2012.


The name "Soroptimist" was coined by combining the Latin words ' "sister" and ' "best", and can be taken to mean "best for women".

Founding and history

The organization has its roots in the Soroptimist movement, started in the USA in 1921 by Stuart Morrow, and in particular in the Soroptimist Club of Oakland, California, founded that same year, with Violet Richardson as president. 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." 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." The Soroptimist Club of London was started in 1923 and received its charter in 1924 from Morrow. Its founding members included George Bernard Shaw's secretary. Other early members included Sybil Thorndike, Flora Drummond, and Mary Allen. From 1924 onwards, Suzanne Noël was highly instrumental in the growth of Soroptimism. Inspired by Morrow, who had come to Paris, Noël founded a Soroptimist Club in that city that year, whose membership included Thérèse Bertrand-Fontaine, Cécile Brunschvicg, Anna de Noailles, and Jeanne Lanvin. With the support of her Soroptimist contacts, Noël rapidly expanded Soroptimist internationally, founding new clubs in the Netherlands (1927), Italy (1929), Austria (1929), Germany (1930), Belgium (1930), Switzerland (1930), Estonia (1931), India (1932), Norway (1933), Hungary (1934), and Denmark (1936). The inauguration of the first Lithuanian club was interrupted by the start of WWII. Prior to WWII, Soroptimists worked to assist refugees fleeing unrest in central Europe. Many Soroptimists themselves ultimately fled from the Nazis' consolidation of power, to seek safety elsewhere. Some were less fortunate. In 1939, many members of the burgeoning Kaunas club were killed or deported. 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. 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). By 1952, at least one club existed in Australia, under the auspices of the Federation of Soroptimist Clubs of Great Britain and Ireland, which included clubs throughout the Commonwealth. Thelma Eileen Jarrett joined this club in 1952 and became a prominent international Soroptimist, being elected president of that Federation in 1972. In 1973, in Sydney, Australia, she chaired the first conference of the Federation to be held in the southern hemisphere. C. 1988-1990, efforts by Soroptimists led to the founding of Caring for Carers Ireland. 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. 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). In the 2000s, Soroptimist International repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the Beijing Declaration, 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. In 2007, Soroptimist International initiated Project Sierra, a four-year project to help disadvantaged women and children in Sierra Leone, in partnership with the international charity Hope and Homes for Children. 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.

Mission and principles

The mission statement of the organization is: The principles of Soroptimism are to strive for: * 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

Soroptimist International is an umbrella organisation, with its headquarters in Cambridge, UK. Within this umbrella, there are four federations: SI of the Americas (SIA); SI Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI); SI of Europe; SI of South West Pacific. 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. These members contribute time and financial support to community-based and international projects. * ''c.'' 2019, SI of the Americas had almost 30,000 members in 1,300 clubs in 21 countries. It has 30 staff at its headquarters in Philadelphia, with a budget of $6–8M.

Notable members

* Mary Allen * Thérèse Bertrand-Fontaine * Margaret Blackwood * Pauline Suing Bloom * Nadia Boulanger * Cécile Brunschvicg * Teckla M. Carlson, Spokane * Grace Cuthbert-Browne * Mary Campbell Dawbarn * Lucie Delarue-Mardrus * Flora Drummond * Nannie C. Dunsmoor * Béatrix Dussane * Oda Faulconer, President * Nellie A. Goodhue * Winifred M. Hausam * Thelma Eileen Jarrett * Jeanne Lanvin * Lily Laskine * Carrie Morrison * Anna de Noailles * Suzanne Noël * Mary Pickup * Geneve L. A. Shaffer, San Francisco * Mary Jane Spurlin, Portland * Mary Sykes * Sybil Thorndike * Violet Richardson Ward * Ida V. Wells * Madrid Williams

See also

* Feminism * Soroptimist Park



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External links

Soroptimist International home page
* {{Authority control Category:Mutual organizations Category:Organizations established in 1921 Category:Organizations with general consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council Category:International women's organizations Category:1921 establishments in California Category:International nongovernmental organizations Category:Peace organisations based in the United Kingdom