As we head into the busiest season of the year, it is good to take a few minutes to think beyond Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa & Christmas so, here are some other dates that I feel are worth noting.
October 3: Soroptimist Founder’s Day (1921)
In the spring of 1921, Stuart Morrow, an organizer of men’s service clubs, visited Oakland, California. In search of a potential member for an Optimist* club, Morrow called on the Parker-Goddard Secretarial School, presuming it was run by men and found instead Miss Adelaide Goddard and Miss Mabel Parker owned the school. Explaining his mistake, Morrow excused himself. As Morrow left, Miss Goddard remarked she would be interested in joining such a club for women if he ever considered forming one.
Goddard’s remark set the wheels in motion for Stuart Morrow. He contacted a number of business women in the community, and invited them to a preliminary meeting on May 21. Of the six women in attendance, only one showed real interest. This woman began recruiting her acquaintances and on June 21, a luncheon meeting with 10 women officially launched the club toward its goal of 80 members to receive a charter from Morrow.
This core group met once a week, and continued to gather the names of eligible women from Alameda County; they also chose the name Soroptimist for the organization, coining a word from two Latin words “soror”—woman and “optima”—the best.
On September 26, the charter was closed and officers were elected with Violet Richardson Ward serving as the president. The presentation of the charter and an installation ceremony took place on October 3, 1921, the day officially celebrated as Founders Day.
In 1927 Stuart Morrow agreed to sell all rights, title and interest in the name “Soroptimist” and all the rights in the corporation for $5,500. While eight clubs underwrote the purchase, all clubs, including those in Europe and Great Britain, contributed. The American federation was formed at the Washington, DC, conference in 1928. (The federation was to be self-governed and self-supported, but was united with the European federation as the Soroptimist International Association.)
October 11: International Day of the Girl Child
International Day of the Girl Child is an international observance day declared by the United Nations; it is also called the Day of the Girl and the International Day of the Girl. October 11, 2012, was the first Day of the Girl. The observation supports more opportunity for girls and increases awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. This inequality includes areas such as right to education/access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination,violence against women and unfree child marriage.
The International Day of the Girl Child initiative began as a project of Plan International, a non-governmental organization that operates worldwide. The idea for an international day of observance and celebration grew out of Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl campaign, which raises awareness of the importance of nurturing girls globally and in developing countries in particular. Plan International representatives in Canada approached the Canadian federal government to seek to the coalition of supporters raised awareness of the initiative internationally.
International Day of the Girl Child was formally proposed as a resolution by Canada in the United Nations General Assembly. Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister for the Status of Women, sponsored the resolution; a delegation of women and girls made presentations in support of the initiative at the 55th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly voted to pass a resolution adopting October 11, 2012 as the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child. The resolution states that the Day of the Girl recognizes
[the] empowerment of and investment in girls, which are critical for economic growth, the achievement of all Millennium Development Goals, including the eradication of poverty and extreme poverty, as well as the meaningful participation of girls in decisions that affect them, are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights, and recognizing also that empowering girls requires their active participation indecision-making processes and the active support and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families and care providers, as well as boys and men and the wider community […]
Each year’s Day of the Girl has a theme; the first was “ending child marriage”, the second, in 2013, was “innovating for girl’s education”, the third, in 2014, was “Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.” and the fourth, in 2015 was “The Power of Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030″.
This year’s theme focuses on adolescent girls and the Sustainable Development Goals, which set a range of international targets, including on gender equality, to be achieved by 2030. For more information, go to UNWOMEN.org