SI South West Pacific Robyn Cain, Programme Director, SI South West Pacific reports
International at the Commonwealth People’s Forum, held in association with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, was indeed an honour. I was sponsored by the local lottery organisation which supports NGOs in Western Australia. Along with Past International
Commonwealth People’s Forum To represent Soroptimist
to address the group. Several Foreign Ministers responded to the points raised by the group. Mr Rudd thanked the Civil
President Margaret Lobo, I attended sessions where we learned how important the Commonwealth can be as a world voice. It is interesting that each Federation has Commonwealth countries in its numbers. The attendance of representatives from many of the countries added a great international mix of ideas and voices to the session discussions. I represented SI at the Foreign Ministers’ Roundtable with Civil Society. Civil Society groups were invited to present questions to the 30+ assembled Foreign Ministers. Questions were drawn from the CPF discussions and included climate change, empowerment of women in financial roles to disability services and migration. The meeting was chaired by Australia’s Foreign Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd, who gave everyone the opportunity
Society made the following summation: 1. Disability: This has become a world-wide priority with programmes such as Australia’s ‘Disability and Development’ becoming common in the Commonwealth countries. 2. Role of Women: A
Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II with Commonwealth Leaders at CHOGM, Perth Western Australia.©Annaliese McDonough/Commonwealth Secretariat.
common aim is ensure women’s full engagement in economics and the empowerment of women in financial roles. 3. HIV AIDS: The Commonwealth will support the global fund to provide access to retroviral medicines. Mr Rudd noted that 50 per cent of PLWHA are women.
4. Same Sex Marriage: In the Commonwealth there is a diverse range of views and it is the province of each country to address. 5. Resilience: The
presentation of concerns held by members of Commonwealth Civil Society groups which were treated with consideration by the Foreign Ministers. The full Civil Society Statement, available at http://tinyurl.com/89syp9g
– includes the following: “We call on Member States to put civil society back at the heart of the Commonwealth during this exciting phase in the association’s revitalisation.” An important resolution was to
Commonwealth countries join together to support programs of sustainability especially in the Pacific Island states. The meeting was a forthright
SI of the Americas
responded with concern and support after a massive earthquake and resulting Tsunami created massive damage in Japan in March 2011. Soroptimists are committed to helping women and girls rebuild their lives in Japan following the disaster.
Grants for Women and Girls, a joint project of SIA and SIE have provided more than $75,000 in grants to support this goal. An immediate donation of $10,000 was given to the Iwaki Fureai Support Center to help the domestic violence shelter to rebuild and reopen. Additional grants are supporting: • Japan Higashi Region’s project to raise awareness of violence against women in the aftermath of the disaster.
Thus far, the Soroptimist Disaster
Lori Blair, Senior Director of Programme, SIA, reports Soroptimists around the world
• SI Fukushima’s project to provide scholarships to girls affected by the disaster. • SI Sendai’s project to provide personal hygiene items to women and girls living in shelters and to organise women to discuss and plan for their special needs following the disaster; and • SI Akishima’s project to assist a childcare center to enable working women to return to their jobs. In addition to the projects funded through the Soroptimist Disaster Fund, the five regions in Japan have joined together to support prefectures damaged by the disasters and Soroptimists who suffered losses from the disaster. They have also designed a long-term
focus on efforts to end the early and forced marriage of millions of girls. We can help by taking a vow to help PLAN (an NGO) disseminate the message to stop the practice: www.plan-uk.org/
what-we-do/campaigns/because- i-am-a-girl/vow/ PIP Margaret and I also
Excellency Quentin Bryce. What a great topic to interest
Soroptimists as we implement the new SI programme of work – ‘Educate to Lead’. The panel, which included the female Prime Ministers of Australia, Bangladesh and Trinidad and Tobago, concluded that educating disadvantaged women in order for them to reach their full potential is crucial to empowerment.
attended an inspiring dinner panel discussion on the topic of “Empowering Women to Lead” which was initiated by Australia’s Governor- General, Her
An exciting event at the People’s Forum was the presentation of the Royal Commonwealth Society’s “Jubilee Time Capsule” website. This is designed to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. People from Commonwealth Countries are invited pick a day in the last 60 years and write a piece about why it is important in their lives. This activity is something Commonwealth country clubs could promote to schools.
Websites to view: www.commonwealthfriends.org
Homes burning after the Japanese earthquake
girls who lost parents in the disaster. More information is available on the SIA website at www.soroptimist.org
. Donations are still being accepted by SIA and SIE to support projects in Japan. The needs of women and girls will continue long after the world has turned its attention to other disasters. Soroptimists around the world are
project, Project Kizuna (“Heart to Heart”) to provide scholarships to
committed to providing long-term support for all women and girls to rebuild their lives in Japan.
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