By now, I assume most SIE Congress participants have returned to their respective homes – exhausted, and hopefully not too stressed by the journey, but no doubt invigorated by the programme and the young women in STEM! Witnessing these enthusiastic, inquisitive and ambitious guests has been a fascinating experience! Just look at the photos! I take this opportunity to thank the Unions which, along with the Federation, were willing to sponsor these young women. Clearly, it was a worthwhile investment in education! And I know how much our young guests appreciated having the opportunity to interact with such interesting and impressive scientists and managers already established in STEM careers!


I am very pleased that the leaders of our worldwide organisation, starting with SI President Yvonne Simpson and including all Federation Presidents, were able to join us in Florence. The Congress programme offered not only a wide range of topics relevant to all Soroptimists, but also an in-depth picture of the impressive achievements of our Federation’s Unions and Clubs. Who wouldn’t be proud to hear about the projects recognised by Best Practice awards! Once again I congratulate the winners on their exemplary initiatives and hard work – all in the interest of women and girls! (click HERE to read the full BPA brochure)


On the occasion of the Congress we also awarded the SIE Sport Prizes for the first time. The winners in all three categories, i.e. athlete, coach and team, were highly deserving of this special recognition. (click HERE to read the press release)


The announcement of the 2017 SIE Peace Prize winner, Gégé Katana Bukuru, was surely a highlight of the Congress weekend. Nominated by SI Belgium at the recommendation of SI Club Marche-en-Famenne, Gégé has spent more than 25 years of her life fighting for women’s rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (click HERE to read the press release). She is an inspiration to us all!


Whether you were able to attend the 21st SIE Congress or not, I urge all Soroptimists to read the final resolutions (click HERE to read the final resolutions). I cannot think of a better way to summarise the content or convey the spirit of this event which commemorated my biennium and that of my predecessor, IPP Ulla Madsen. As the motto of the Congress says, Soroptimists really do help women ‘Own the Future’!

Elisabetta signtature

Maria Elisabetta de Franciscis

SIE President 2015-2017