Our Vision & Mission
Vision – Women and girls will achieve their individual and collective potential, realising aspirations with an equal voice to create strong, peaceful communities worldwide.
Mission – Soroptimists transform the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities.
Objectives & Principles
In order to guide our behaviour and activities, we observe and apply the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and, in particular, the Convention to End all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) as well as the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
To succeed in these endeavours, we:
Treat all with
dignity and respect
Don’t have any party-political affiliation
Work with all who
share our objectives
Our History & Centenary
The Soroptimist Name – The name Soroptimist was coined from the Latin soror meaning sister, and optima meaning best. In this way, Soroptimist means ‘the best for women’. From the founding of the first Soroptimist club in Oakland, California, in 1921, through to the present day where over 3000 clubs are flourishing throughout the world, Soroptimists have continued to strive to achieve ‘the best for women’ in every sphere of their lives.
History – In 1921 the first Soroptimist club was founded in Oakland, California. The Founder President was Violet Richardson Ward. In 1934 the Federation of Soroptimist International Great Britain & Ireland (SIGBI) was founded and has thrived over the past 60+ years.
Soroptimist International Centenary 2021
Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) together with Soroptimists from across the world joined together to celebrate 100 years of Soroptimist International (SI) and celebrate a ‘Bright Past’ and a ‘Brilliant Future’. To find out more Click Here.
We have 15 active Clubs in the Republic of Ireland and our current President is Miriam Murphy Wood.
I joined SI Ireland in the early 1990s and being a member is a great way to meet like-minded friends and get involved in local, national and international projects which help support women and girls.
My theme for my presidency is ‘Stand tall, Stand out’- As a relatively small organisation in Ireland, my thoughts were that we needed to have our voice heard and show the people of Ireland that the Soroptimists are relevant and can have an impact in improving the lives of women.
We stand for women, we stand for equality, we stand for improving the lives of women and girls, and it’s vital that more people in Ireland understand that we are here and what we stand for.
Click to see a graphic of our Past Presidents.
|1966/67||Doris McNamara||Limerick (Fed. Pres.)|
|1971/72||Mary N. Watson||Sligo|
|1973/74||Rita de Vere||Ballina|
|1978/79||Muriel Bowers||Cork (Fed. Pres.)|
|1981/82||Mildrid O’Brien||Dun Laoghaire|
|1982/83||Alice King||Tralee & District|
|1991/92||Theresa O’Doherty||Naas / Newbridge (Fed. Cllr.)|
|1994/95||Eileen Herlihy||Wexford (Fed. Cllr.)|
|1995/96||Tess Hogan||Cork (Fed. Cllr.)|
|1996/97||Mary McMahon||Ennis (Fed. Cllr.)|
|1997/98||Betty White||Dun Laoghaire|
|1998/99||Patricia Tyrrell||Naas / Newbridge|
|2000/01||Mona Looney / Margaret Heffernan||Killarney / Sligo|
|2002/03||Aine Brady||North Kildare|
|2003/04||Catherine O’Sullivan||Naas / Newbridge|
|2004/05||Carmel Schmidt||Drogheda (Fed. Cllr.)|
|2008/09||Kay Brophy||North Kildare|
|2012/13||Anne O’Driscoll||Tralee & District|
The Belfast Club was the first Irish club founded in 1932 with the Dublin club following in 1938. It was agreed that the title should be “The Divisional Union of Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland”.
From 1944 onwards Soroptimism grew rapidly throughout the whole of Ireland. Clubs were formed in Coleraine and Derry, 1944, Ballymena 1945, Bangor 1946, and Lurgan 1947. Extension work took off during the ’50s and early ’60s, with the establishment of Newry and Mourne in 1956, the Cork Club in 1957 and Drogheda and Sligo 1958, Dun Laoghaire, Galway, and Newtownards 1959, Bray 1960, and Wexford and Clonmel in 1961. Athlone, Dungannon, and Kilkenny followed in 1962, then Carlow, Enniskillen, Limerick, Larne, and Killarney in 1963. Ballymoney, Ennis, and Tralee were established in 1964, and Ballina in 1965.
Between 1932 and 1966 Ireland provided three
Miss Grace Holloway – 1948 /49
Mrs. D. McNabb – 1954 / 55
Mrs. A N McIlrath – 1964 / 65
In 1966 the vigorous growth of the Soroptimist movement made it necessary to divide the Divisional Union of Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland into two separate regions of SIGBI – SI National Association Republic of Ireland and SI Northern Ireland. Doris McNamara of the Limerick Club was the first President of SI ROI and a Presidential chain of office for the new region was designed and made by Egans of Cork, with the members from each club subscribing 2/6d towards the cost!
At this time, Soroptimist Clubs in Ireland continued to be formed including:
Castlebar – 1969
Letterkenny – 1973
Dungarvan – 1980
Bandon – 1981
Naas Newbridge – 1982
Mullingar – 1991
North Kildare – 1994
Ballinasloe – 1995
SI Republic of Ireland has had 2 further Federation Presidents – Mrs Beatrice Grosvenor SI Killarney in 1972 and Miss Muriel Bowers SI Cork in 1985.
The North-South Conference – It was decided that a yearly weekend conference should be held alternately in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and this has continued successfully ever since.
In 1966 the Soroptimist Club of Galway proposed that a particular charity project at national level should be chosen every two years with the support of all clubs in the Divisional Union (National Association). This suggestion was formally adopted, and we have, as a result, financially supported:
- St. Luke’s Hospital Cancer Research
- Kidney Unit at Jervis Street Hospital
- Cerebral Palsy Clinic
- Multiple Sclerosis Society
- Battered Wives
- Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland
- Special Olympics
- Simon Community
- St. Luke’s Hospital Treatment Machine
- Guide Dogs for the Blind
- Fem Scan
- The Youth Brass Band
- The Small Voice (Street Children)
- Caring for the Carers
The members of Soroptimist International Republic of Ireland have an interest in the following subjects and have made representations to the respective Government Departments on these matters:
- The Married Women’s Income Tax Allowance
- The low standard of television programmes
- The proposed Criminal Justice Bill
- Discrimination over non-contributory pensions for women
- Widows of Civil Servants Pension Bill
- Proposed Legislation on Family Planning
- Video Nasties
- Anti-Discrimination Against Women
- Carers in the Home
- Equality Rights
- Partnership 2000
- Asylum Policy
- Protection of Children
2000 Ireland – The National Association executive invited all Soroptimists to a gala celebration of the millennium on the eve of their their meeting in December 1999 the last of the 20th century.
Soroptimist International consists of five Federations: Soroptimist International of Africa, Soroptimist International of the Americas, Soroptimist International of Europe, Soroptimist International of Great Britain & Ireland and Soroptimist International of the South-West Pacific.
A global volunteer movement, we work together to transform the lives of women and girls and promote gender balance. Our network of around 72,000 club members in 121 countries works at a local, national and international level to Educate, Empower and Enable opportunities for women and girls.
Soroptimist International has consultative status at the United Nations since 1984 and is a recognised NGO representing women from all over the world. There are Soroptimist representatives at all the major UN centres across the world.
For more information visit Soroptimist International