Each one of us on this planet knows that climate change is happening. We are all convinced of the need to act and that, to have an impact, we must join forces.


The climate for women is changing too, and not for the best.


But when it comes to the changing climate around women’s rights, not all of us are aware or convinced that it is happening yet. As Soroptimists, we see significant signs that this negative trend is happening from organisations where we have a seat at the table, such as the UN, the European Women’s Lobby, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the Council of Europe. All of which, urge us to stand up for women.


Just as there was a reluctance to take global warming seriously, until some may argue it has become too late, we risk catastrophic consequences from not heeding the warning signs of the change in climate related to women’s rights. We have received reports that more and more countries and platforms are pushing back on women’s rights, while simultaneously reducing opportunities for women to stand up for their rights.


It was my dream as incoming SIE President to implement a strategy to create more opportunities for women and girls, so they may make their own choices about their education, location, partner, career, clothing, and way of life. Having to witness this pushback against such rights, while many women and men are not even aware of it, is a slap in the face for me and any women declaring ‘We Stand Up for Women’.


Only this month, the European Parliament finally voted to give their consent for the Council to ratify the Istanbul Convention. How many of us were aware that this had not yet happened?


Let us be very clear: just as with climate change, worsening violence against women can only be stopped when we stand united. As women acknowledging the pushback, and as Soroptimists, we can stop this reversal if we reach out to other women’s organisations and stand united.


We are strong, internationally embedded, and educated. United we have the power to act, raise awareness, advocate for women’s rights, and change the climate!


Yours sincerely,


Carolien Demey

SIE President 2021-2023



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