International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March every year, is an occasion to take stock of the status of women’s rights in the world. IWD has its origins at the turn of the 20th century, and although women have made strides in certain areas, we are a long way from being recognised as equal partners with men.


For nearly 100 years, Soroptimists have been tirelessly fighting for gender equality. As President of Soroptimist International of Europe (SIE) I have chosen women’s rights as the central theme of my biennium – with a special focus on eliminating all forms of violence against women, whether trafficking, domestic abuse, FGM or child marriages. In our project work and through advocacy, Soroptimists Stand Up for Women – of all ages, cultures and beliefs.


Thanks to this commitment and our successful programme work, SIE acquired consultative status at United Nations’ ECOSOC in 2013, which allows the Federation and its members to have a voice in addressing women’s issues. One key occasion for Soroptimists to contribute to the global effort to promote gender equality is the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which takes place every year in March in New York.


This year, SIE Vice President Advocacy Elizabeth Otieno-Nyadwe and I will lead an SIE delegation of 18 to the CSW63. We will bring Soroptimist knowledge and experience to the discussions and will collaborate with governments and other like-minded NGOs to work for a more equal world. The theme of this year’s CSW is: Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.


Soroptimist efforts will be showcased in a number of parallel and side events. Our delegates will also take this opportunity to network with other organisations and push for the Soroptimist “key asks”.


So, on this International Women’s Day I pledge the continued support of Soroptimist International of Europe to empower women and to achieve gender equality. Join us in Standing Up for Women!


Renata Trottmann Probst, SIE President