International Women’s Day 2018

Croydon Soroptimist International’s public speaking competition
helps girls to be Loud And Proud

The Loud and Proud public speaking competition for year 6 girls, proudly supported by Soroptimist International Croydon and District, took place in Croydon Town Hall on Thursday 2nd March. It was held to commemorate International Women’s Day 2018 and the 100th anniversary of the first stage of female suffrage in the United Kingdom – the granting of the voting to property-owning women over the age of thirty in 1918.
With Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones in attendance, the competition’s judges were Soroptimist Emma Patel, Reginald Larry-Cold, CEO of Wheels 4 Sure, Donna Fraser, a Croydon Olympic athlete, Commonwealth Games World and European Championships medallist, the Citizen‘s general manager Tom Black and Porsha Robinson, Youth Engagement Leader at Croydon Council.
Finalists from eight Croydon primary schools had the opportunity to present their speeches in the fantastic setting of the council chamber of Croydon town hall. All showed skill, ability, determination and strength of character as they spoke. The audience was treated to some passionate speeches and strong opinions, and the judges certainly had a challenge. In particular the stark inequality in salaries between top male and female athletes was rammed home by those who chose the topic of equality in sport. It is something that judge Donna Fraser, (Croydon medallist at European and Commonwealth games and Olympic athlete) was already too well aware of.
Croydon’s mayor, Councillor Toni Letts OBE, awarded the prizes. First place went to Eleanor Martins of St James the Great RC Nursery and Primary School who spoke eloquently on the topic of overseas aid. Second prize was taken by Leila Kirkwood-Ayres from St Peter’s Primary School who spoke on maths and the modern girl, and third place went to Amara Aseidu from Heavers Farm Primary School. The winners received vouchers but all participants also had the opportunity to visit the House of Lords, courtesy of Sarah Jones MP who presented certificates to all the finalists

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SI Canterbury celebrated International Women’s Day with a fabulous Dinner and Dancing at Howfield Manor Hotel. Rosie Duffield MP (Canterbury’s first female MP) gave an interesting after dinner speech and guests enjoyed dancing to Bamboozle. Our supported charity was Target Ovarian Cancer. All in all a great celebration of 100 years of women’s suffrage!
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International Women’s Day March in Tunbridge Wells

A joyous International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated in Tunbridge Wells on March 8, 2018 to recognize the centenary of the vote for those women over 30. Months of planning by women from various organisations across the community including Si Tunbridge Wells resulted in a thirteen and a half hour journey through history with a nod to the future as women and girls produced a variety of events to mark the day. Backed by a government Women’s Vote Centenary Grant awarded to Tunbridge Wells Soroptimists the day was a rollercoaster of noise, costume and singing.
Councillor Jane March joined the Friends of Tunbridge Wells Cemetery as they paid tribute to eight extraordinary women from the late 19th and early 20th century. These women included Dame Bertha Philpotts (Mistress of Girton College), Ethel Newbold ( Statistician), Rachel Beer ( Newspaper Editor), Olive Walton (Suffragette) and Matron Ada Smith. Rosemary tributes were laid. Tied with suffragette and suffragist ribbons made by Guides and Rangers from Mount Ephraim Division which were especially fitting as the penultimate grave visited was that of Pauline Gower (Pilot) who had been a Guide District Commissioner.
Si Tunbridge Wells were joined by Carol Infanti from South East England Region for the main IWD march from the Pantiles to the Town Hall with many participants in Suffragette costume. A rousing performance by CREATE players and marchers of the ‘Women Voters’ hymn Jerusalem on the steps of the Town Hall was heartily embraced by all. The bunting, some 125 metres made by the local Soroptimist women fluttered in the breeze as various declamations were made. Si Tunbridge Wells, Carol and other members of the public entered the Town Hall to take tea and cake with Mayor Councillor Julia Soyke. The programme reflected the past, the present and the future and a musical performance of ‘This is Me’ by our newest Soroptimist Charlotte Bartholomew.

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Tunbridge Wells Soroptimists, June Bridgeman, Caroline Auckland, Lorna Blackmore and Ann Greenfield with Guide Leader Brenda Howes.
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Lorna wearing our Club President’s badge which was designed and enamelled by Ernestine Mills an important Suffrage Artist and member of the Women’s Social and Political union (WSPU).
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Si Tunbridge Wells, Carol Infanti and Tunbridge Wells Mayor, Cllr Julia Soyke.

Eastbourne Soroptimists on International Women's Day

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Medway Soroptimists on International Women's Day learning about ovarian cancer

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International Women’s Day 2017

The earliest organised observance of Women's Day was in February 1909, in New York.
The United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day in 1975, the International Women's Year. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women's rights and world peace.

The theme for International Women's Day 2017 is "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030". This year the aim is to raise awareness of the gender pay gap. Last year it was gender equality and pledge for parity.

In a message in support of International Women's Day, the UN Secretary-General commented on how women's rights were being "reduced, restricted and reversed". With men still in leadership positions and a widening economic gender gap, he called for change "by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.

The world of work is changing and with it significant implications for women. On the one hand we have globalisation, technological and digital revolution and the opportunities they bring and on the other hand the growing informality of the labour market , including zero hour contracts. Measures that are key to ensuring women’s economic empowerment must include the gender pay gap, which stands at 24% globally; this recognises women’s unpaid care work and domestic work. The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. Around the world, IWD can be an important catalyst and vehicle for driving greater change for women and moving closer to gender parity.

Soroptimist clubs in the region have arranged various events to mark the day. SI Lewes held a breakfast meeting with Past Federation President Liz Batten, SI Croydon have their Loud and Proud public speaking competition for young women, they also hosted a dinner with speaker Clare Walker highlighting women’s achievements in aviation, Clare got her pilot's licence at the age of 50. SI Canterbury hosted a dinner with Dame Heather Rabbats as the keynote speaker.

There will be 80 Soroptimists from across all 4 Federations attending the
UN Commission on the Status of Women taking place in New York later this month.
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Liz Batten addresses the Lewes Breakfast meeting
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Lewes Breakfast
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Loud & Proud in Croydon
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Canterbury Dinner

International Women’s Day 2015

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Five members of SI Gravesend & District donned stout boots and windproofs for an invigorating five-mile sponsored walk around Jeskyns Country Park to mark International Women’s Day. They were sponsored by other club members, families and friends to the tune of £210 (and still counting!) in aid of Choices, formerly North Kent Women’s Aid. The walkers were led by supporter Tricia and her partner
SI Maidstone celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) by having afternoon tea at Harpers in Maidstone and hearing from Kate, the owner, about how she made it happen. She was half way up a mountain when she realised that she no longer wanted to work in retailing. On returning back to Maidstone she saw the shop, but it was a bit above her price range, so she left it. Some while later it was still for sale – so she felt it was meant to be and brought it. Eight years later she is still in business.
Many of those present were wearing purple (tops, scarfs, jewellery and nails), the colour that symbolises justice and dignity; two values which are important to Soroptimists today.

Lewes Soroptimists publicised their activities by serving light refreshments at the Lewes Water Fair in the Linklater Pavilion, on 7th March . Focused on flooding, flood resilience, water quality and water usage this event brought together numerous organisations working within the Ouse & Adur Catchment focused on the water environment.
Later in the day two members, along with Regional Councillor Hilary Rowberry from SI East Grinstead, attended an International Day at the Pestalozzi Village.
The highlight of the day was International dancing, food tasting, hand painting and a very moving poem from a young woman student about the status of women in her country and how she wanted to fight to improve it.
Our handpainting picture is one design for
Joy and Happiness and a mandala representation of the Universe. These designs are signs of celebration for women's day.

Croydon Soroptimists once again organised L
oud and Proud – a Public Speaking Competition for Year 6 Girls from Croydon State Schools. The Final was held in the Council Chamber, Croydon Town Hall, on Friday 6 March. The standard
of all presentations was very high and the judges took their time to pick the three winners. Prizes were presented by Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed, the Mayor of Croydon.
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International Women’s Day 2014

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International Women’s Day in 2014 coincided with the Regional Conference held in Maidstone on 8 March. Proceedings began with a photo shoot on the bridge. A Bridge of Smiles was created by holding up bricks on which were written the names of women who had played an important part in our own lives

International Women’s Day 2013

To support the theme Enough is Enough: End Violence against women and girls and mark International Womens Day Soroptimists from around the South East Region were involved in a variety of events.
On 8 March SI Beckenham held a lunch  celebrating Women's International Day for Peace.
Gavin Barwell, Member of Parliament for Croydon Central, was the guest of honour at a public speaking competition to mark International Women’s Day in Croydon. The final of the competition was held in Croydon Town Hall. The competition was launched in October 2011 to encourage young women to perfect the art of public speaking, both to develop their confidence and research skills.
Gavin was the guest speaker on the day and as part of the prize agreed to escort the winners and their guests on a tour of the House of Commons later in the month. The Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Eddy Arram, awarded the prizes and certificates.
On Saturday 9th March  SI Lewes & District  assembled from 9 am until 11 am with banners and posters on Cliffe Bridge in Lewes.  In the afternoon they joined with East Grinstead Soroptimists, students and visitors at an International Day held at the
Pestalozzi International Village in Sedlescombe to celebrate Peace and highlight abuse of women.
On 9th March SI Gravesend & District organised an awareness-raising conference on human trafficking and healthy relationships at Northfleet School For Girls. The speakers were Cliff Grieve, Chairman of Kent Community Against Trafficking; Peter Cox, Chairman of Croydon Community Against Trafficking; and Deborah Jordan, North West Kent Women’s Aid who is delivering the Healthy Relationships (Loves Me, Loves Me Not) Programme to schools and youth organisations in the area.
  • Anja, Janet from East Grinstead and Patricia

  • On Cliffe Bridge

  • Engaging with the public on Cliffe Bridge

  • Vera, Anja and Nicole

  • Joining hands for Peace at Pestalozzi

  • The Ring of Peace at Pestalozzi

  • Open forum with students at Pestalozzi

  • Nepalese Dance at Pestalozzi

  • A marriage play from Zimbabwe

  • A song of freedom for Tibet

  • Left to right: Peter Cox, Chairman Croydon Community Against Trafficking; Councillor Lyn Milner, Mayor of Gravesham; Valerie Boswell, President SI Gravesend; Julie Wilson, Head Teacher, Northfleet School for Girls; Deborah Jordan, North Kent Women’s Aid and Cliff Grieve, Chairman Kent Community Against Trafficking

  • SI Beckenham at their IWD Lunch

  • SI Beckenham at their IWD Lunch

  • Penny Veness at Croydon Loud and Proud

  • The contestants wait in expectation

  • Croydon Loud and Proud

  • The Judges

  • The winners

  • The winner

International Women’s Day 2012

Bridge 2 Bridge Saturday 10th March

On  Saturday 10th March members of SI East Grinstead and the new Lewes Club marked International Women’s Day by SUPPORTING  PEACE ACROSS THE WORLD. They assembled  at the famous Pooh Sticks Bridge and travelled to the Cliffe Bridge in Lewes with a  rest at Trading Boundaries on the way. On both Bridges they were able to interact with passing members of the public and publicise Soroptimism.
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Pooh Bridge, Hartfield, East Sussex
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Cliffe Bridge, Lewes, East Sussex
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Tea & cake at Trading Boundaries
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Tunbridge Wells Soroptimists on the Millennium Bridge

On International Womens Day, Thursday 8th March, Soroptimists joined in the event on the Millennium Bridge.  Pictured below are Judy Farnie, Club President Ann Greenfield and Lorna Blackmore from SI Tunbridge Wells and District.