THIS year marks the 80th Anniversary of the formation of Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (affectionately known as SIGBI).

Since its inception in Oakland, California, in 1921, Soroptimism has spread to more than 100 countries and in excess of 3,000 clubs. Our 80,000 members make Soroptimist International (SI) the biggest and most influential women’s voluntary organisation in the world. We have category 1 status at the United Nations enables our organisation to consult with them to ensure that women’s voices are included in international decision-making processes.

Although 80 years has passed since SIGBI was formed, today’s members are still passionate about the same goal: to achieve equal rights through the education, empowerment and enabling of women. Also, through programme action and fundraising events, we help others locally, nationally and internationally.

This is certainly true of the Barry and district club.

The club, which was founded over 40 years ago with 15 members, now has 40 members from Barry, Penarth, Dinas Powys, Sully and even Pontyclun.

President Jeni said: "We are a group of dynamic ladies of all ages from varied backgrounds and professions. We embrace diversity and difference and benefit from the vigour and fresh ideas of all our members. Not only do we engage in fundraising and social service projects but friendship and fun are a priority on our agenda.

"We meet once a month to share a meal and friendship and plan how we can achieve our objectives."

Over the past year local Soroptimists have been involved in reading partnerships with High Street Primary School, delivering interview technique sessions for Sixth Formers in Bryn Hafren, the Families and School Together Projects, sponsorship of a student in India and supporting the orphanage Pooncholai in Tamil Nadu, as well as fundraising for the Eczema Society, Vale Plus, Ty Hapus and the Food Bank.

One of the current initiatives is the 'Make a Stand' against abuse. In the week when the gender based Violence Bill goes before the Assembly, the Welsh Government has called for a year of campaigning against domestic abuse and violence against women.

Over the years, members have maintained close links with Atal Y Fro, the local refuge for women escaping domestic abuse, donating wash bags and more recently helping to furnish the new refuge. In the past year the club has also joined with SI Stafford to support the petition 'Violence against women- stop it now'.

To raise awareness of the Make a Stand initiative, club members are pictured linking arms against abuse.

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