Today is International Day of Peace, September 21. Let us reflect on this.
2017 Peace Day Theme: Together for Peace: Respect, Safety, and Dignity for All.
The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on 21 September. Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.
Peace is more than the cessation of war. The theme of this year calls on everyone to be actively involved: “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for all”. This definition is reflected throughout the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with targets for gender equality, education, water, poverty, … and Soroptimists worldwide focus on this theme in their project and advocacy work.
“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference’. Nelson Mandela.
Soroptimists make that difference. The Soroptimist International mission to “transform the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities” is also stated in the Objects of the SI Articles of Association:
The Objects of the Company are to promote either directly or by the encouragement and support of others:
- the advancement of education, the advancement of health and saving lives,
- the advancement of health and saving lives,
- the relief and/or prevention of poverty,
- the advancement of good citizenship and community development and
- the advancement of human rights, peace, equality, and diversity
for the benefit of the public across the world and in particular for the benefit of women and girls to advance their status, position and role in Society where currently unequal or disadvantaged (‘the Objects’).
Soroptimists advocate for gender equality – which respects the rights and responsibilities of men and women equally. Soroptimists support the call for 50:50 by 2030. Soroptimists call for the end of the gender pay gap. Equal pay for equal work respects the worker for his or her work, and removes the gender lens which disproportionately disadvantages women in the workforce.
Soroptimists advocate for a violence-free world. Violence against women is a major problem in most countries. Domestic violence disproportionality affects women, who are the majority of victims. Soroptimists support the monthly Orange Day – marked on 25 of each month to remind us that we are still striving for freedom from violence, especially in the home when one should be safe. Soroptimists work in partnership with White Ribbon, the men’s organisation calling for men to stop violence against women. Together we make a greater difference.
Soroptimists advocate for economic empowerment for women to give them the dignity of being able to take care of their families. Many Soroptimist projects provide education, skills training, or leadership training for women and girls. The aim is to educate and empower. Education is the tool to better employment opportunities. Work, and especially equally paid work, enables a woman the dignity of independence and to fulfil her potential.
The 2017 U.N. Peace Day Theme: Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All is based on the TOGETHER global campaign that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life. Soroptimist projects have assisted refugees and migrant women. Projects have been based in refugee camps and in destination countries: They have set up schools where no government funding is available. They have provided teachers and resources. They have provided education for children and adults. They advocate for more government support. Soroptimists knew together they can make a greater difference.
Soroptimists actively, and every day, live the theme of the 2017 UN Peace Day – and together, Soroptimist clubs in 122 countries and territories, are making a difference at the grassroots level, and advocate for change at the national and international levels.
Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, President
Yvonne Simpson, Immediate Past President Soroptimist International
Lead photograph Children in Zataari Camp in Jordan courtesy of UN Photo/Sahem Rababah