Soroptimist International was founded by Violet Richardson in Oakland, California in 1921. It soon grew to become an international organization with clubs established in Europe. Today, SI consists of four federations – SI of the Americas, SI of Europe, SI of Great Britain and Ireland, and SI of the South West Pacific. With a network of more than 75,000 club members and a presence in 133 countries and territories, SI members work at a local, national and international level to educate, empower, and enable opportunities for women and girls.
The federations are organized into regions. SI Windsor is part of the “Founder Region,” so named because of the club origins in Oakland.
During its long history, Soroptimist International took the opportunity to hold a reception in 1946 for delegates to UN conferences, which included Eleanor Roosevelt, and by 1948, Soroptimist International was awarded Consultative status with UNESCO. Then in 1950 Soroptimist International was awarded category C Consultative status with ECOSOC (Economic & Social Council, United Nations). 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. Soroptimist International has a permanent consultative seat on the UN, with four representatives who speak on behalf of women and children throughout the world.
The principles of Soroptimism are to strive for:
- The advancement of the status of women
- High ethical standards
- Human rights for all
- Equality, development and peace and
- The advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace