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While preparing to write the message to mark UNESCO’s World Book Day on 23 April, the Programme and Communication teams started collecting information on the various literacy-related projects within the Federation. I am overwhelmed by their findings.

At all levels of the organisation and in many different ways, Soroptimists are promoting literacy by providing access to books. I am thrilled by these efforts, because they are a crucial step to ensure a better education for women and girls.

First and foremost I would like to commend those supporting the My Book Buddy partnership to set up mini-libraries in primary schools which allow children to take books home to read. In Kenya alone Soroptimists have helped outfit four schools with these special bookcases, thus supplying fun reading material to over 1000 girls. Similar projects are in preparation in Nepal, Madagascar, Ghana and Italy, and schools in Rwanda and Burkina Faso are seeking financial backing for the My Book Buddy library systems for their pupils. I encourage you to support this Federation project in any way you can: some Clubs are organising reading marathons, while others are planning local reading events to raise money to fund the libraries. To read more about this rewarding partnership, please go to the designated website: https://sie-mybookbuddy.org/

But as we celebrate World Book Day, I am also delighted by individual Soroptimist efforts to promote literacy. The six Clubs of Vienna are collaborating to put on a conference this weekend about the importance of literacy. I know that many Austrian Soroptimists are personally getting involved by reading to children – a practice which is done in many countries around our Federation. SI France has initiated a creative and effective campaign to install so-called book boxes in public and private places especially frequented by women. They include waiting rooms of centres offering professional or legal advice or women’s shelters. In March SI Switzerland announced a Union project to create a fund that will allow underprivileged young women to attend reading and writing courses. And earlier this year my own Club in Caserta inaugurated a school library in our community, and I know that other clubs have realised similar projects.

 

Although perhaps on a modest scale, but nevertheless we Soroptimists are contributing toward the Sustainable Development Goal 4 to ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults achieve literacy and numeracy by 2030. With millions of people worldwide still lacking basic literacy skills, most of whom are women, every action to relieve this problem is worthwhile.

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