At the Soroptimist International (SI) Board meeting on 17 July 2019, preceding the 21st SI International Convention, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the SI Board made the unanimous decision to approve of the SI Africa Federation Charter application submitted to Soroptimist International for a fifth SI Federation subject to the two thousand membership criteria being met and subject to an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the clubs in Africa ( Resolution 23).
The lights are now green for the next stage in the formation of the Soroptimist International Africa Federation (SIAF), the fifth Soroptimist Federation, which is to be chartered (subject to the membership and voting criteria) in April 2020, during the Soroptimist International Future Africa Federation (SIFAF) Biennial Conference, 16-19 April 2019, in capital city of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
The SIFAF Task Force 2018-2020 has worked tirelessly, delivering formidable results to date, and with 1,890 members counted in July 2019, from 106 clubs in 26 countries, there is confidence that membership targets agreed by the SI Board will be reached. With each club committed to finding one or two new members by December this year, and the SIAF Extension Committee working and engaging with women in 12 countries to establish new clubs, it is hoped that membership should reach 2,000 in good time.
Mary Muia, SIFAF Task Force Chair says: “SIFAF is breaking ground in new SI territories with clubs in formation in South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Botswana. New clubs are preparing for charter in Rwanda, Kenya, and Nigeria. It is not about how long the African Soroptimists have taken to become SI’s 5th Federation, rather it’s about the passion and determination we have to transform the lives of women, girls, and communities in our great continent.
Soroptimist International wishes to congratulate the members of the SIFAF Task Force 2018-2020, as well as the previous Task Forces, with the result of their hard work over the past years. These women from all over the African continent worked tirelessly since 2012 to ensure that by July 2019 all the requirements for a new SI Federation had been met, apart from – as yet – the required total number of members. Governance Instruments are now in place for SIAF, such as the Constitution, Bylaws, and Strategic Plan, as well as the necessary administrative and financial systems, including Finance Policies and a Standard Operating Procedure Manual. Communications channels are up and running, including the website, Voice of SIFAF, an electronic newsletter, and various social media channels, includingFacebook, and Twitter.
Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, SI President says: “I am so very proud of all African Soroptimists who have worked in a true Soroptimist spirit to make their dream of an SI Africa Federation become a reality. Together with the SIFAF Committee, the SI Federations of Europe and Great Britain and Ireland, and the different Task Forces, we have been dedicated to the inauguration of a new SI Africa Federation.
I am convinced that this will happen in 2020 after two-thirds of the African SI Clubs have voted in favour of an SI Africa Federation. We must not forget that the first SI Club in Africa was SI Port Elizabeth in South Africa in 1959. So for over 55 years, Soroptimists have been known for their projects in Africa. Many women and girls have been educated, empowered, and enabled and I would like to send congratulations for all the hard work done to achieve your dream. The women have shown strength, commitment, and stand as role-models for us all, particularly young aspiring Soroptimists who will join our organisation now and in the future. I am looking forward to continuing to work with you all to reach our goal so we are able to charter the SI Africa Federation in 2020.”
Lead image: Key speakers and Soroptimist Directors and members join for a photo opportunity on Day One of the 21st Soroptimist International Convention, Kuala Lumpur 2019.