In a message to Soroptimists and supporters for International Day of Peace
on 21st September, International President Ann Garvie has urged Soroptimists
to promote peace and tolerance in their communities, while influencing
decision-makers worldwide to end conflict and violence.
Read President Ann's full message below.
“It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard
work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
13 years ago the United Nations recognised September 21st as International Peace
Day, a day of non-violence and cease-fire.
10 years ago as SIGBI Federation President I chose as the theme for the 70th
Federation Conference“PEACE & TOLERANCE: The roots are in your
community, the opportunities in our hands”
The theme reflected the many difficulties facing us and threatening the very
existence of our fellow human beings worldwide. The challenge was to promote
peace and tolerance in our local communities while influencing decision-makers
worldwide to cease the unnecessary misery affecting innocent women and children.
Sadly today the lack of peace and tolerance within civil society is destroying
communities in too many parts of the globe. Extremism is a scourge upon civil
society and Soroptimist globally must endeavour to influence the acceptance of
tolerance within their communities and beyond.
The elimination of hatred, loneliness, war, conflict, injustice, poverty, ignorance,
prejudice, genocide and crime must be an ambition of every member of Soroptimist
International, otherwise the world which we leave behind will not be a credit to us
and we will have failed the generations to come.
Many Clubs have embraced projects which focus on the elimination of hatred and
the promotion of peace. However, as Soroptimists we have to accept that in today’s
world the desire to seek peace could never be of greater significance. 80% of children
in Syria no longer attend school, what are their chances in life without an EDUCATION?
Also as Soroptimist we must look inwardly and reflect, why members occasionally leave
our organisation citing that the members of a Club failed to demonstrate respect,
tolerance or friendship. The lack of such qualities result in strife within the Club and
factions working against each other. This is unacceptable and cannot nor should not
On International Day of Peace, I urge all Soroptimists, at all levels of the organisation
to stretch out their hand of friendship and bring about reconciliation, internally and externally.
The Mayo Peace Park, located in Castlebar, Republic of Ireland was officially
opened in October 2008 by the then President of Ireland Mary McAlesse.
The park honours local soldiers who were killed in the two world wars, members
of the Irish Defences Forces and An Garda Siochana, who lost
their lives in the line of duty. It is a quiet place of reflection for the families
As International President, I had the privilege in May 2014; to unveil a
peace plaque accompanied by the President the National Association of the
Republic of Ireland Noreen Walsh, the Region President of Northern Ireland
Irene Miskimmon and the Club President of Castlebar Anne Collins, in the
Mayo Peace Park, a poignant moment for thought and reflection.
At the ceremony the Soroptimist Peace Pledge was read:
We are women standing for women. We come from many lands; we are different
colours, creeds and race and together we celebrate diversity. We are united in
our purpose to bring a message of peace to the women of the world.
Our declaration is tied with a blue ribbon, a symbol of the bond of friendship
that binds us together as members of Soroptimist International, reminding us
that our membership brings the responsibility to preserve freedoms and to be
peacemakers. We hope for a world where tolerance, reconciliation, cooperation
and partnership are realities.
We pledge to work for a world where
The human rights of all people are respected
Equal opportunities are available to women who are disadvantaged
through their gender, poor health or social exclusion
Education is accessible for all girls
Poverty and disease are conquered
All peoples enjoy safe and healthy environments
We contribute to the peace and prosperity of humankind by nurturing
a spirit of peace, encourage peace education and support a culture
PEACE IS OUR UNIFYING PURPOSE
Soroptimist International President 2013-2015
Read more about International Peace Day and Soroptimist action for peace