SI Convention Istanbul 9-12 July 2015
The 20th Soroptimist International Convention was held at the Hilton Convention Centre, Istanbul from 9-12 July 2015. Bridging Asia and Europe, Istanbul was the perfect setting for a progressive and international conference. More than 1500 Soroptimists from the four federations participated including seven members of SIROM who experienced an incredible four days of sharing, enrichment and fellowship.
There were inspiring panel sessions under the theme of “Educate to Lead”, where projects focusing on supporting the access of women and girls to education were highlighted. Distinguished speakers, such as international best-selling author Elif Shafak and the co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign Michael Kaufman, provided thought-provoking and topical talks.
The Convention showcased the best projects from all 132 countries and territories and it was gratifying for the Malaysians to see several of their projects highlighted. SISWP President Carolyn Hudson mentioned SI Damansara’s LifeSkills4Youth programme, which equips underprivileged and “at risk” youth with vocational and “employability skills” for today’s workforce environment. SI Ipoh’s Edufun programme to provide academic, social and emotional support for underprivileged children was also highlighted. Puan Sri Siew Yong Gnanalingam’s “Walk The Talk” federation-wide campaign to reduce violence against women, which she initiated during her Presidency of SISWP, was also shared at the Convention. In addition, SIPJ’s Dato’ Anusha Santhirasthipam was also invited to share about Project SEEED.
The Convention was not all work. Soroptimists work hard and play hard and there were two lovely evenings where delegates dined el fresco and celebrated friendships old and new. Other evenings were free for Soroptimists to explore the beautiful city of Istanbul. Several Malaysian Soroptimists took a dinner cruise on the Bosphorus which was truly spectacular.
The seven-strong delegation from Malaysia not only participated at the conference, but also had a very special mission. Led by Puan Sri Siew Yong, the Malaysian delegates were also there to promote the 21st Soroptimist International Convention in 2019, which would be hosted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Convention was a marvellous experience – filled with much learning and sharing of Soroptimist ideals worldwide. The four-day event culminated with the transfer of the Soroptimist flag from the 20th Convention Chair Emine Erdem to the 21st Convention Chair Puan Sri Siew Yong Gnanalingam.