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from Grace Onions,
I’m delighted to be taking on the role of Regional President for South East England and am excited and nervous in about equal measure.
I’ve had so many ideas that it was tricky to hone them down. My theme for 2020/21 is “Our planet, our future” and the importance of how our lifestyle choices can have positive or detrimental effects on the global environment and all living things. It is not news that women are affected disproportionally more in areas of climate upheaval as well as being the majority of food producers in areas of the world that provide so much of our food.
Speakers have been invited from a range of organisations and charities including the Soil Association, Good Energy, Population Matters, Women’s Environmental Network, architects of eco-friendly housing and rewilding projects as well as climate justice linked with economics. Whether these will be in-person or online speakers will be determined by the government guidelines or legislation at the time as well as the personal circumstances of each one, so while I hope that all will come to fruition as planned, there may be some changes here and there. These are unusual times during the pandemic, but we are also living through what numerous scientists and many governments have declared to be a climate and ecological emergency.
The speakers will cover a range of climate-related topics focussing around the theme of “Our planet, our future” and while these will mostly relate to Sustainable Development Goal no.13, Climate Action, many will also encompass SDG 17 – Partnerships to achieve the goal. It will be great to include these SDGs in any programme action in the coming year and I look forward to hearing how easy our clubs are finding it to add events to the Programme Database on the SIGBI website when I visit.
We can all make positive changes to protect and conserve what’s left of our planet and the life on it, and how we can encourage others to make changes too will be crucial. It’s hard not to have seen some programme or other about pollution or extinctions or fires or floods in the last few years so with this in mind, I would like to invite each club to provide 2 or 3 sentences prior to Region meetings regarding what their members have done in relation to each speaker’s topic so that it can be circulated with the agenda (or at least before the meeting). As there are only 3 meetings, I hope that every club will be able to participate and won’t find it too taxing! One of my current endeavours is the collection and delivery of bin bags full of pet food pouches for recycling. These single-use plastic items are not easily recyclable and although I can’t offer to take any that you might have, am happy to talk about how you could set up a similar project in your own area. An idea in the pipeline that I hope to make available to you all soon is the collection for recycling of used make-up containers. With the possible exception of drag queens and some actors, make-up is used predominantly by women, creating a waste stream of containers that are difficult to dispose of in an environmentally benign or useful way. Once I get the definitive list of items that will be accepted by the recyclers, I’ll be very happy to take all your old, ‘collecting dust at the back’ or ‘it’s not really my colour’ items at any future meetings or by post, although I’d prefer to meet up for a cuppa. Of course the ideal situation would be to have non-plastic containers.
The November meeting will not go ahead at this venue but perhaps something can be arranged on zoom. The three Region meetings in 2021 will be on the 13th March, 26th June and 25th September. The aim is to hold these as face-to-face meetings unless circumstances dictate otherwise. After some deliberation, I have opted for the SIGBI project “Empowering Girls in Nepal” as my chosen charity, in part because of the disruption to fundraising during 2020 so I hope that this will encourage you all to hold at least one club event to support it. And I will supply a branded collection box to anyone who would find it useful. I’m also hoping to make some links with neighbouring regions in some small way such as ordering the Soroptimist tulips.
Finally, I am very grateful for the help and advice so freely given by past presidents and current president and the executive committee in preparing for this role and I intend to do my very best to support and promote all our clubs in whatever way I can as we all move forward. Soroptimists are wonderful women, making differences to so many people’s lives in our local areas and all around the world so let’s make full use of our strengths, helping women and girls to reach their full potential wherever we can. We’re all on this planet together so Soroptimists, for our planet and our future, let’s get cracking!
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