On 8th March members of the Canterbury club of Soroptimist International (SI) will be celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD), in common with millions of women across the world. IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The Day also marks a call to action for gender equality, using the theme #Break the Bias, to raise awareness of bias, stereotypes and discrimination which result in women’s inequality.
IWD started in the early part of the 20th century and became international in 1910, with the United Nations celebrating the Day in 1975. It is now a fixed day in the calendar of United Nations Days of Action and awareness raising, with events and activities taking place across the world.
Soroptimist International (SI) is an international organisation of women that works to improve the lives of women and girls locally, nationally and across the world. SI has clubs across all continents and has consultative status at the United Nations, all supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. One of these Goals is to achieve gender equality and all Soroptimists work together raising awareness, lobbying and fundraising with a view to seeing a day where we live in a world where women have equality.
Domestic Violence and Abuse Service
The SI Canterbury Club has supported the Rising Sun Domestic Violence and Abuse Service for many years. Rising Sun supports women and children affected by domestic abuse in Canterbury and East Kent.
The organisation was founded in 1975 by a small group of women who opened a women’s refuge in Canterbury for women fleeing domestic violence. This was a time when very little was spoken about domestic abuse and there were very few places of safety for women in danger.
In 1975 the refuge was moved into a disused pub, named ‘The Rising Sun’ and from then the service was expanded to provide specialist services, support and counselling for women and children affected by domestic abuse.
Today Rising Sun supports women, children and young people, enabling them to have the tools to come to terms with their experiences and to build their self-esteem. A lot of work is done with young people and children who have been affected by domestic abuse and very recently Rising Sun has opened supported housing for homeless young women who have experienced domestic abuse and are pregnant or have a young baby.
Women’s inequality in society
SI Canterbury endorses the view that violence against women is a consequence of women’s inequality in society, and supports Rising Sun in its work. Club members have raised funds, assisted in voluntary administrative work and engaged in raising awareness of domestic abuse. In November 2021 the CEO of Rising Sun attended a Silent March through Canterbury which was organised by SI Canterbury to highlight the importance of the issue and to share the information that domestic abuse increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Celebrating Women’s Achievements
On 8th March, Canterbury Soroptimists will be celebrating the many achievements of women, and they will also be calling for action to promote women’s equality around the world. We would love more women to join us – find out more on our websites and Facebook page: