In its continued efforts to empower women and girls and to promote gender equality, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 11 February International Day of Women and Girls in Science in December 2015.

Since then, the United Nation has reaffirmed the importance of science and gender equality to achieve the internationally agreed development goals summarised in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Soroptimist International of Europe will be celebrating this International Day with particular enthusiasm because in the context of our biennium motto,‘Soroptimists Invest in Education’, we are encouraging women and girls to pursue the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) as a study and career choice. This means that we are, among other things, putting special emphasis on STEM candidates in the awarding of SIE Scholarships.

However, an especially effective way of promoting young women aiming to pursue STEM careers is the decision to invite Unions and Single Clubs to sponsor young women between the ages of 18 and 25 who are either studying or working in STEM fields to attend the SIE Congress in Florence in July 2017 under the motto, ‘OWN THE FUTURE: Education, your passport to a better future’. The application form and more details are available on the SIE Congress website: In addition to sponsoring some of our own candidates in STEM fields, the Federation will also finance the costs of Unions or Single Clubs who have identified a worthy woman or girl, but lack the necessary funds. The Board has earmarked €30,000 for this purpose.

By opening our Congress, we are offering talented young women multiple benefits. They will have the opportunity to network with inspirational women speakers who are leaders in the fields, while experiencing our organisation of and for women.  This invitation is a very concrete way of furthering the studies and careers of women in STEM disciplines – very much in the spirit of the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science.


Maria Elisabetta de Franciscis

SIE President 2015-2017