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Global Action: Trends

SI Nigeria lobbying to eradicate harmful practices affecting widows

This page looks at Soroptimist International’s impact across various categories of work, identifying significant issues and trends.

Non Formal Education for Girls and Second Chance Programmes for women are the most commonly reported areas of work.

  • This is largely due to large numbers of Violet Richardson Awards and Women’s Opportunity Awards across SIA countries.
  • The Violet Richardson Award programme honours girls aged 14-17 who are making a difference through volunteer service, while Women’s Opportunity Awards assist women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by awarding grants enabling them to improve their education, skills and employment prospects.
  • Looking at all projects outside of these two large scale programmes, nearly one quarter of all educate, empower, and enable projects are Soroptimists educating themselves and the wider community on critical issues affecting women and girls in order to increase women’s participation in society.
  • Non formal education for girls and young women still ranks second.

35 projects focussed on teaching girls to read

38 projects improved female children’s access to books and libraries

  • Of the projects which specified the level of schooling, 52% were for tertiary or further education, with 24% for secondary school and 23% for primary.
  • Increasing access to secondary and tertiary education is critical for young women but is often overlooked as much of the global attention in education for women and girls is focussed on primary school.
  • We do not discount the importance of primary education for girls, but we must also support young girls in continuing their education.
Pie chart showing education projects breakdown by level (primary, secondary, tertiary)

Education projects by level (primary, secondary, tertiary)

248  projects supported women’s shelters, with over 10,000 known beneficiaries

  • Includes domestic abuse shelters and shelters for homeless women.
  • These projects are indirectly helping these women to become educated, empowered, and enabled to start a new life for themselves.
  • Nearly $182,000 was raised to support this work.

29 projects supported young mothers, with 1211 young mums benefitting.

  • This new category of projects gives young women/girls the education, empowerment, and opportunities they need to achieve their potential given a potentially difficult life situation.
  • Over $125,000 went into these projects.

Nearly USD 500,000 raised for 90 water projects.

  • These projects increased access to safe water outside of school settings (water projects specifically within schools are still reported under improving the school environment).
  • Improving access to safe and clean water plays an important part in educating, empowering, and enabling women and girls.

Working with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts  / Public Speaking Competitions

  • In the very popular category non-formal education for young girls, we noticed trends in working with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and in holding public speaking competitions.
  • These two areas are wonderful examples which exemplify all three Es.  There were 35 projects specifically working with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, representing 10% of all projects in this category (excluding Violet Richard Award taken out).
  • 13 public speaking contests were reported.

Educating the community on issues facing women and girls in order to increase women’s participation in society

This year, we introduced five subcategories to see just what issues Soroptimists felt were important in their communities:

  • violence against women and girls;
  • women’s health issues;
  • environmental issues specifically challenging women and girls;
  • fair trade and its impact on women and girls;
  • peace.
Community awareness - project breakdown by issue

Community awareness – project breakdown by issue

  • Nearly half of all projects under this category focussed on violence against women and girls, including domestic violence and trafficking.
  • These projects represent 7% of ALL work educating, empowering, or enabling opportunities for women and girls.
  • This is very timely given the focus of this year’s report and the work we have done globally around violence against women and girls, this year in particular.
  • 21% of community education projects focussed on women’s health issues, in particular ovarian and breast cancer.  6% focussed on fair trade, 2% on peace, and 1% on the environment.  The remaining 23% were on other community specific topics.


  • In the category of work training women in leadership, we also looked at projects which specifically undertook lobbying.
  • Lobbying governments is crucial to SI’s mission, and not only has the potential to improve the lives of women and girls on the ground, but also helps Soroptimists to become leaders in women’s rights.
  • 16% of these projects were classified as lobbying work. 

19 projects worldwide supported women in prison 

We identified a small but growing trend of work specifically for women prisoners  through education, empowerment, or enabling opportunities.

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