SI UN Rep Meets Head of UN Women


Last week (June 23rd) was First International Widows’ Day.

The UN Resolution to mark this day was passed in February of this year. Here in New York, we celebrated this first International Widows’ Day with Michelle Bachelet, the head of UN Women, Mrs. Ban Soon-Taek, the wife of UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and First Lady of the Gabonese Republic, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba.

I had an opportunity to talk to Ms. Michelle Bachelet. She has wonderful personality and is a very engaging speaker. She smiled at me and she was willing to talk to me. So I showed my SI business card and asked her ”Do you know Soroptimist International?” Surprisingly, she said,” No, I never heard of it” and then she looked at my card and said “Soro means sister, right? and Optima is…” I said “Yes! Yes! Soroptimist means the best for women.” 

I said in Spanish ”Me llamo Yoko”. Ms Bachelet smiled and “Now I will remember your name. “Yoko”.  

On Monday June 27th the annual session of the UN Women executive Board meeting started. I am here at the UN Women meeting to promote SI and our activities, our Soroptimist International name and the SI emblem to UN Women. At the end of the first day of the meeting, I was able to give Ms Bachelet an SI Brochure, so she will be able to know more about Soroptimist International. 

Here is the statement. I will make video about her speech as soon as four day session finished.

Statement by Michelle Bachelet at the Annual Session of the UN Women Executive Board

We have travelled far in a very short period of time — just six months — thanks to the tremendous efforts of all of you here. We also know that we still have a long way to go and high expectations to meet. The Strategic Plan before you is our shared roadmap for the next few years. Like any good map, it sets out a general direction to be followed. We will need to come back to it regularly to see if we need mid-course corrections and whether we are on the right track.

However, in order to make our journey a fulfilling and successful one, it is not just the map we need; greater resources, more dynamic partnerships, more men and boys taking leadership to advance women’s rights, and significantly enhanced capacity within UN Women will be pivotal to helping us reach our destination — for improving the lives of women and girls who need us most and who have a huge amount to offer in return.

I have met some of these women and girls on my travels. One cannot fail to be energized by them. From the young women’s rights advocates in Tahrir Square who stood courageously together with men and inspired us with their creative use of Facebook and Twitter to send out a global call for democracy and justice; to the Liberian market women who were determined to learn to write their names so that, for the next election, they can sign for their vote; to the Bangladeshi women police officers in Haiti and the women who staff the gender desks in police stations in Latin America and the women in Addis Ababa’s safe home who were able to rebuild their lives. It is for the women and girls in neighbourhoods and villages worldwide, partners in development and peace, future leaders of their communities and countries that we are deliberating over the next three days. It is for them we are working.

Thank you and I look forward to our discussion together on the Strategic Plan.

Reported by Yoko Komori Olson

SI UN Rep to New York


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