2002-2011: Soroptimists Celebrate International Peace Day

September 21st is International Peace Day. From 2002
to 2011, Soroptimist International has used this day to raise awareness,
support peace projects, celebrate peace and goodwill, and connect with others
around the world. Here we look back on actions taken since 2002 and look forward to what Soroptimists can already do to support Peace Day 2012: Global Truce.

In 2002,
the first ever International Day of Peace was celebrated.  Soroptimist
International officially recognises this day and encourages members to
participate and engage!

In 2003,
SI held an international convention in Sydney, where one of the themes was
women in conflict resolution and peace building.  Keynote speakers Noeleen
Heyzer from UNIFEM, Camilla Cowley, an Australian pastoralist from outback Queensland who gave her land back to the
aboriginal owners, and Ethel Munn, one of the aboriginal elders who received
the land, all spoke on our power to bring peace to the world.  SI’s
programme team also led break-out sessions covering issues such as bullying in
schools, women and violence, peace in the home and workplace, and women and
security (UN Security Council Resolution1325).

In 2004,
SI President Joan Cromer’s December 10th Appeal, Dust of Life?,
partnered with Children of Peace International (see image, left). They had been working at
the Ho Chi Minh Youth Shelter in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam since 2002, striving
to improve the living conditions of over 500 children who had been brought
there as prostitutes, thieves and street peddlers. COPI’s goal was to restore the lives of these
children to ‘normal’. The normality the children craved was simply to be safe,
loved, respected and allowed to grow up in peace.  Soroptimist donations enabled further positive changes in the operation of the shelter, transforming the
lives of the children.

In 2005,
Soroptimist International of Europe began two Peace Projects: The Peace Prize
and the Peace Marathon. SIE’s Peace Prize recognises, every two years, a woman or a
group of women, who has/have undertaken outstanding projects to promote
peace.  The first prize was presented at the SI/E Congress in Vienna in 2005 to Vera Bohle for her campaign against the use of landmines and cluster munitions.

The first
marathon for peace, organised in collaboration with the Rwandan Ministry
of Youth, Sports and Culture, was an outstanding success, surpassing all
expectations. It was not only a major sporting event but also a magnificent
festival of friendship and a special meeting place for Soroptimists and
sportsmen and women from all over the world.  Money raised through the
marathon has gone to a wide variety of Soroptimist led projects in Rwanda.

In 2006,
Soroptimists clubs around the world created different peace-themed items.
For example, the Union of Iceland designed and printed “Icelandic
Soroptimists’ Peace Card”.  Sale of the cards at
minimum price raised funds for peace projects. Soroptimists in America designed and
created lapel pins for all members to wear to raise awareness about the
International Day of Peace.

In 2007,
Soroptimists took part in “Women Walking for
Women”.  This raised awareness and funds for the SI 2003-2007 Quadrennial
Project, Project Independence: Women Survivors of War (see image, right). Women all over the world organised
local sponsored walks on or close to 21 September, involving the
wider community.  Soroptimists used the opportunity to share information
about the amazing work being done with Project Independence.

St Vincent and the Grenadines
(SIGBI), held a rally for International Peace Day with awards and singing.  A member
of SI Waitara (SISWP), Raewynne Niwa, ran a Marathon at the same time as it was run in
Rwanda. Members of the
club joined her along the way, either running, walking or cycling.

In 2008 SI Newport and District (SIGBI) created an International Peace Tree. The Club
asked schools and other local organisations to send in messages of peace to be placed on the Tree of Peace. SI
Savonlinna (SIE) organised a public walk around the local town holding peace streamers,
working with seven other women’s organisations to raise awareness of International Peace Day. The President of SI
Susanville (SIA) read the Peace Day message from International
President to the club. Each member signed UNIFEM’s “Say NO to Violence Against Women” petition.

In 2009, SI Yorkshire Cluster Group (SIGBI) organised a display in the city of Leeds, UK,  for International Peace Day. One
thousand small origami doves of peace were strung together to form the word
PEACE in memory of the Hiroshima disaster.

In 2010, the September TIS magazine was dedicated to International Peace Day. The editorial included these words:

“Soroptimist International has
members in 124 countries – that means an enormous number of languages are
spoken just within our Soroptimist world – it’s no wonder we don’t always
understand what others are saying. But there is one word that every Soroptimist
understands, Peace. The word peace is on every page of this issue of TIS and it
is in the heart of every Soroptimist.”

We also
released a new Where We Stand Statement: Women and Peace Building.

year, SI has been celebrating and sharing all of the actions listed here. International
President Alice Wells issued a statement, which you can read here. Plus, as
always, clubs continued to mark International Peace Day in their own way.  For example, SI Lancaster (SIGBI) sent Peace Day
emails to their friendship links around the world. Visit our facebook page to
see what other clubs have been doing.

So what next? Following International President Alice Wells, please add your support to the 2012 Peace One Day campaign: Global Truce 2012. Click here to learn how you can support the campaign and watch the film below.




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