SI President’s Message: Human Rights Day 10 December 2016

He aha te nui o te ao

What is the most important thing in the world?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

 – Maori proverb.

“The people. Humanity. Mankind… are our neighbours, local or international, men or women, whatever race, creed, sexual orientation, ability… we are all people with human rights.

Soroptimists worldwide strive for gender equality as a human right. We celebrate Human Rights Day and launch our Soroptimist International President’s Appeal on that day. It is a day that unites Soroptimists in achieving our Mission, that of transforming the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities.

Project work:
Soroptimist project work at the grassroots level affirms the principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our programme areas include education, health, justice, peace, the environment, human dignity, economic empowerment, education, safety .. all aspects of human rights.
Our SI President’s Appeal, brings together the Soroptimist global membership with one project, one focus –  to educate, empower or enable the most vulnerable. In 2015 – 2017 this is delivered through ‘Educate to Lead: Nepal’, supporting women and girls recovering from the devastating earthquakes of 2015. The projects within the Appeal, each focus on education as the tool for economic empowerment, seeking to prevent trafficking, to support the universal rights of education, employment and to help others live in dignity without fear or violence. Soroptimists stand up for the rights of women and girls in Nepal through our SI President’s Appeal project work.

Advocacy Work:
Soroptimist advocacy work at the national and international levels represents our Global Voice for Women,  particularly those women who do not have a voice. Here SI stands up for women’s rights at the United Nations and with Member States. SI has General Consultative Status and we use this privilege to make statements and have dialogue at the highest levels. We use our voice to strengthen the messages of gender equality as a human right. We address the issues, and join forces with other organizations to strengthen our collective voice.
Human Rights Day, 2016, calls for everyone to “Stand up for someone’s rights today!”

I call on Soroptimists and like-minded people to join the stand, and to renew our individual and collective efforts to realise the 2030 agenda of 50:50.
We can make a difference at a personal level, when we step up to defend the rights of one other person, or when we step up and stand up for our own rights: When we show that respect is a right and we will accept only respectful communication or actions.
We can make a difference at a local level in our own communities by welcoming a migrant or refugee, by advocating for access for those with physical disabilities.
We can make a difference at the national level by advocating for equal pay, for more employment opportunities.
We can make a difference at an international level by ensuring our voice is heard by the combined governments of the world at the meetings held within and outside the United Nations.
Our destiny is in our hands. We can make a difference to ensure Human Rights Day 2016 makes a real difference and accelerates change, taking us towards achieving 50:50 by 2030″.

Yvonne Simpson SI President 2015 – 2017

“It’s time for each of us to step up for human rights. There is no action that is too small: wherever you are, you can make a difference. Together, let’s take a stand for more humanity.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

To find out more about Human Rights Day 2016 please visit


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