Authored by: Deborah Thomas, SI Global Executive Director
Prior to the SI Quadrennial International Convention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a series of meetings were held by the board and Authorised Representatives of Soroptimist International (SI). The SI board met on Monday 15 July to hold a Review and Planning Day with SI President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen chairing the meeting. The directors reviewed the recently implemented board restructure, which all agreed was a significant step forward, achieving better use of resources, improved working knowledge and committee work. Finances and strategic planning were also reviewed with much importance placed on both functions in respect of committee work and alignment of all SI’s work. It was also agreed that SI needs to ensure its work is visible, and understood by all members. The board took the opportunity to review their participation and structure of board meetings, where it was generally agreed that the combination of official board meetings and informal topic specific meetings, is assisting SI business, ensuring that work remains strategically aligned, relevant and provides an excellent channel of information to members.
On Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 July the annual face to face board meeting was held, chaired by SI President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen. The appointed auditor presented the financial statements to the board for the year ending 31 December 2018, which were approved. The appointed investment manager presented an analysis of SI investments, which the board agreed and would be monitored by the Finance Committee to determine potential areas where the return could be increased but remain in line with SI’s ethical investment policy. A draft budget was presented by the Treasurer and Global Executive Director which it was agreed, required further changes, this will be submitted to the next board meeting for approval. The SI Treasurer Susanna Raccis was thanked for her four years of service and Chair of Finance Ann Hodgson also thanked for her work. The board welcomed incoming SI Treasurer for 2020-2021, Kathy King.
Many governance documents were updated ensuring that the structure and guidance which supports the work of SI remains up to date and robust. Chair of Governance, RoseMary Reid was thanked for her dedication and commitment to this essential area of SI work. The Annual Report for 2018 was approved by the board and the new SI Quadrennial brochure presented and accepted with thanks by the board. SI’s Director of Advocacy, Beverly Bucur presented an overview of SI’s Advocacy work with details of the work of each of the seven UN Centres where SI has permanent representation. A new Where We Stand Statement regarding Cyberbullying and a revised statement regarding Migration were approved for immediate use. SI Assistant Director of Advocacy, Hafdis Karlsdottir presented an update on the President Appeal, Women, Water and Leadership, with details of the continuing projects in Kenya, Bulgaria, Malaysia and Indonesia. A momentous item for decision was presented to the board by the current Chair of the SI Future Africa Federation Task Force, Mary Muia and the Past Chair, Nneka Asoluka, who travelled from Kenya and Nigeria to formally ask the SI board to approve the application to form a new Federation, Soroptimist International of Africa. The board approved this notable development for the organisation, subject to the future Federation achieving a minimum of 2,000 members and the positive result of the SI ballot to all African Clubs .
Following the formal board meeting on Thursday 18 July the Annual General Meeting was held, which was open to all Soroptimists to attend as silent observers. Annual General Meetings are the formal meeting of the company SI (Soroptimist International) Limited which has four members, those being the four Federations. AGM’s are chaired by the SI President with the Authorised Representative (A/R’s) of each Federation and the Company Secretary in attendance. This year the A/R’s approved the minutes of the 2018 AGM and accepted the company financial statements and annual report for 2018, subject to one amendment being made regarding the convention.
An informal meeting was opened after the AGM was formally closed where presentations of three SI President Appeals were given. Immediate Past SI President Yvonne Simpson and Past Assistant Director of SI Advocacy Sharon Fisher gave a wonderful overview of all the projects funded by Educate to Lead: Nepal which maintained education as its key theme, helping to rebuild lives of women and girls post the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015. This was followed by a highly informative presentation by SI President Mariet and SI Assistant Director of Advocacy Hafdis on the current appeal, Women Water and Leadership, demonstrating the key role women have to fulfil in respect of water security and achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6, Clean Water and Sanitation. The final presentation was given by SI President Elect, Sharon who introduced her President Appeal for 2020 – 2021 entitled ‘Road to Equality’. This appeal will focus on violence against women in its many forms, funding projects and also holding webinars for members where experts will be invited to speak, helping us all to widen and update our knowledge of this issue.
Next we heard from members who had submitted questions to the SI board and A/R’s. Governance and scrutiny of the newly restructured board were discussed with confirmation that governance is taken very seriously and followed at all times. The role of the A/R’s was confirmed as working well, with them now joining the Annual Review and Planning day and attending the face to face meeting as observers. It was further confirmed that a review of the new board structure will take place in 2020. The finances of the company SI (Soroptimist International) Limited were examined with a detailed explanation of the financial statements for 2018 and confirmation that company investments will be carefully monitored to ensure return is optimised and remains in line with the SI Ethical investment Policy. Questions were also asked regarding the future SI Africa Federation, which subject to minimum membership of 2,000, SI President Mariet was delighted to inform, will be chartered in 2020.
New resources now available for members from the SI website include: