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Influencing international law and policy

Women’s Voices for Sustainability at UN Environment Programme

SI's UN Reps in Nairobi, Alice Odingo and Rose Mwangi.

SI’s UN Reps in Nairobi, Alice Odingo and Rose Mwangi.

In February 2013, Dr Alice Odingo, one of Soroptimist International’s UN Representatives in Nairobi, was elected as one of four Global Co-ordinators of the Women’s Major Group at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). She says:

“A woman’s voice and participation is the catalyst environmentalists need for sustainability. When I was elected as one of the four Global Women Major Group Coordinators, I was happy for SI and it is timely due to the work [fellow Nairobi UN Rep] Rose and I have been doing in UNEP. It means that SI will be part and parcel of Agenda setting for Women Major Group activities and meetings and will be more visible in UNEP. “

Alice and Rose attended the UNEP Governing Council meeting, taking part in the negotiations and high level roundtable dialogues with ministers. At the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance Meeting on Women and Climate change, they delivered a written statement on gender and reproductive health and helped draft a gender statement which was issued to the UNEP council and the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN).

Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda

SI event on Post-2015 and sustainable development with David O'Conner, Chief of Policy and Analysis, UN Division for Sustainable Devt, SI President Ann Garvie and NY UN Rep Paulette Forbes-Igharo

SI event on Post-2015 agenda with David O’Conner, Chief of Policy & Analysis Branch at UN Division for Sustainable Devt, SI President Ann Garvie and NY UN Rep Paulette Forbes-Igharo

As the Millennium Development Goals come to a close, the global community must come together and agree on the next generation of development priorities, goals, and targets. Soroptimist International has publicly launched a position statement on what is referred to as the “Post-2015 Agenda”. SI’s key messages are:

  • Whatever goals and targets are eventually agreed, the data collected on each and every one MUST be disaggregated by gender.
  • While we welcome a standalone target which focusses on eliminating violence against women, we want to ensure that this is measured in a progressive and reliable way.
  • There must be additional attention paid to community-wide transformationsor else society will remain status quo. A woman with vocational skills is no better off if she is barred from using those skills in stable employment.
  • Men and boys must be an integral part of empowerment programmes as we work to address the underlying social and economic determinants of the vulnerabilities of women and girls.
    • approach sex or gender based quotas with careful planning and ensure that women, from an early age, are fully equipped with all of the knowledge and skills necessary to take on leadership roles
    • alongside encouraging women to enter into traditionally ‘male’ dominated fields, we also must work to encourage men to enter into traditionally ‘female’ dominated fields to truly overcome and change occupational segregation.
    • look at creating work environments which are conducive to both men and women having families.
    • Take extreme caution to avoid implying that gender equality is about women taking on male roles.

We must guarantee that discussions around the financing and resourcing for the Post-2015 agenda take a gender-responsive approach and include gender audits. This is non-negotiable to ensure that goals and targets for gender equality are not just lip service.

Femicide Statement adopted, CSW


SI focussed on the issue of femicide at the 57th annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women, being selected to deliver an oral intervention during government deliberations. The final resolution, adopted by the Commission and now an official UN resolution, reflected SI’s statement on the issue of femicide and what the international community must do to address this atrocity. For more information, read the special section on CSW.

Letters and petitions: Rio + 20, Universal Education and Human Trafficking

Soroptimists in the USA raise awareness of human trafficking

Soroptimists in the USA raise awareness of human trafficking

Soroptimist International co-signed a letter to USA President Obama expressing concerns regarding the ‘Federal Strategic Plan of Action for Services to Survivors of Human Trafficking’. The Plan, open for public comment in May, presented the opportunity for organisations working to end human trafficking to highlight the need to end the demand that fuels these crimes, as well as highlight other priority issues that are not reflected effectively in the Plan. There are several areas that are not currently effectively addressed in this Plan, such as the provision of services to adult victims of human trafficking, the implementation of existing US laws, policies and regulations, and the inclusion of survivors’ voices in the planning, implementation and evaluation of programmes. Whilst the Plan mainly addresses services to victims in the US, it also has an international reach with regard to US foreign policy.

SI also signed onto an open letter to UN Secretary-General urging his attention to the Rio+20 report on future generations and lent our support to a global petition stating that Soroptimists, 80,000 strong, stand with Malala in her fight for universal youth education. Shortly afterwards, new legislation was passed in Pakistan that guarantees education for boys and girls.

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