Dear Soroptimist friends,
When a Soroptimist decides to run for President of the Federation, she usually has a vision for her biennium. As I have said on multiple occasions, I wanted to concentrate on women – and women’s rights in the broad sense. The slogan ‘Soroptimists Stand Up for Women’ is therefore both a call and a declaration. I am grateful and encouraged that so many Soroptimists have been inspired by this theme. Your projects and activities in the spirit of this motto are simply amazing.
Changing with the times
The strength of any organisation lies in its ability to change with the times. This doesn’t mean that we have to throw out the old and replace everything we hold dear, but if we are to survive and thrive, we must take a critical look at existing policies and structures. For example, in this age of digitalisation, shouldn’t we accept that attendance at monthly club meetings is not the only way forward? Should we be open to eMembership, especially in light of millennials and their needs? Or is it fair that a Union with 150 members has the same voting rights as a Union with over 6000? These are just a few of the talking points scheduled for the upcoming Governors’ Meeting in Zagreb!
No President can handle the responsibilities on her own, and I have been blessed with a hardworking and committed Board. I am extremely proud of all that we have accomplished in the first 18 months of the 2017-2019 biennium. The Advocacy team has organised webinars, inspired widespread Orange the World activities and more recently initiated a campaign to encourage women to vote.
Practical tools for all Soroptimists
The Mentoring Task Force has produced a comprehensive Handbook and spread the word throughout the Federation about the benefits of mentoring. The Extension Committee has assembled a useful manual for recruitment purposes. The Programme team has re-launched a revised and innovative Project Matching website to facilitate cooperation in realising more ambitious projects. I am hoping that Clubs will make greater use of this practical tool.
The Communication team has distributed a Branding Kit to Unions and Single Clubs offering a wide range of content for social media activities. The Link online bulletin highlights news from around our Federation and creates more traffic on our website. SIE HQ has launched the new extranet function of our website, and despite some teething problems, it has made accessing information a lot easier.
With an eye to the future
We have made significant progress in our research of virtual development, and specifically, virtual unions. This structural change could ultimately secure equal rights for Single Clubs and allow their members to run for Federation offices. The new drafts of the SIE and Union Constitutions as well as the SIE By-Laws have been distributed to Unions for comments and will be discussed at a workshop in Zagreb. And finally the Board will present a new Strategic Plan at the GM.
Change in continuity
Each of these efforts represents a type of change; some are more modest, while others will have a crucial impact. Some changes can be implemented immediately, while others will require more time to come to fruition. I like to think of these steps as change in continuity. Change to make our organisation stronger; change to make it run more effectively and equitably; change to make it more attractive for younger women.
Let me take a minute to express my heartfelt thanks to SIE HQ. As some of you may know, Executive Director Meltem Zourdos is on a leave of absence, and I am sure you join me in wishing her a speedy return. Amélie Duval left the office at the end of April for a new position and will be sorely missed by the Advocacy team. The pressure on the remaining staff to handle the preparations for the GM and the launch of the extranet in addition to all of their routine tasks has been enormous. Their dedication and hard work have been exemplary and much appreciated.
I hope this brief summary has shed some light on the motivation behind our endeavours. It has been a great pleasure for me to meet so many Soroptimists during these months and explain my vision personally. And I am thrilled to have learned about your activities and projects first-hand. It has shown me that yes, indeed,
We Stand Up for Women!
Renata Trottmann Probst
SIE President 2017-2019