Helping women and girls live their dreams.
Soroptimist was formed in 1921 in Oakland, California, at a time when women were not permitted to join service organizations. The word Soroptimist was coined from the Latin soror meaning sister, and optima meaning best. And so Soroptimist is perhaps best interpreted as ‘the best for women.’
Soroptimist International consists of Soroptimist International of the Americas, Soroptimist International of Europe, Soroptimist International of Great Britain & Ireland and Soroptimist International of the South West Pacific. 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 of Simi Valley, part of the Soroptimist International of Americas, was formed in 2015 with 40 members. We currently have over 65 members and are continuing to create an impact right here in our city by supporting and empowering women and girls. Our mission is to improve lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and empowerment. Our mission stands on three local pillars:
In 1921, the first Soroptimist club, Alameda County was formed in California with over 80 business and professional women from in and around the city of Oakland. With Violet Richardson as the first President, back then the first club, which changed its name to SI Oakland in 1928, met weekly, debating service projects and hearing speakers on various worldwide issues that would broaden members’ horizons.
The first project was to ‘Save the Redwoods’ – the great ancient trees which were being felled and the club lobbied the legislature, taking on powerful lumber companies, and winning public support, which resulted in a major portion of the forest being set aside as protected land, that still exists today.
By 1937, clubs had been established in Great Britain and Ireland, Europe, and Australia. During World War II, Soroptimists embarked on rescuing members of the SI Vienna club and their families, threatened by the Nazi regime. American Soroptimists donated funds and clothing and many clubs across Europe were forced to meet clandestinely, making and mending clothes, and preparing all manner of items that were needed. Soroptimists opened Rest Rooms for women in the forces and a New Zealand club set up a refugee relief committee for people escaping from Europe. In 1946 Soroptimists held a reception for delegates to UN conferences, which included Eleanor Roosevelt, and in 1948, the Soroptimist International Association was awarded Consultative status with UNESCO.
The Association was awarded category C Consultative status with ECOSOC (Economic & Social Council, United Nations) in 1950. In 1952 the governing body of Soroptimist International was founded, as it is today.
In 1966, UNICEF granted consultative status to Soroptimist International for service projects for children and in 1975, Soroptimists attended the First UN World Conference on Women which was held in Mexico City.
In 1978, South West Pacific Federation was born and in 1982, for the first President’s December 10th Appeal, Catherine Salt chose the very first President’s Appeal project on the island of Pulau Bidong, Malaysia, helping refugee women and children. Pulau Bidong was the first asylum centre run in co-operation with UNHCR and provided housing, care and maintenance, including medical and social services for refugees awaiting re-settlement. Soroptimist International was granted Category 1 Consultative status (now General Consultative Status) with ECOSOC, in 1984.
To read more about SI representation at the United Nations, please visit SI at the United Nations.
Special thanks to Soroptimist International for the photographs and history.
We believe all women can embrace who they are,
can define their future, and can change the world.
In Loving Memory
Board of Directors
Soroptimist International is a global volunteer organization working to improve the lives of women and girls in our community and throughout the world. We work to achieve this through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.
The name Soroptimist means “best for women,” and that’s what the organization strives to achieve.
Soroptimists are women at their best, working to help other women to be their best.
Our Core Values
Women and girls live free from discrimination
Women and girls are free to act in their own best interest
Women and girls deserve to lead full and productive lives through access to education
DIVERSITY & FELLOWSHIP
Women from varied backgrounds and perspectives work together to improve the lives of women and girls