Soroptimist International is an international non-governmental organisation working for women. Soroptimists work closely with the United Nations and the Council of Europe, where they are represented. The organisation has over 72,000 members worldwide in 132 countries. There are 32,000 Soroptimists in Europe including 230 in Poland. Our Association is the global voice of women and girls, and an advocate of their rights to education and healthcare.
Soroptimist International is an apolitical and non-religious organisation. The women, working in a voluntary capacity and involved with various activities, come from many countries of the world and we endeavour to understand and respect different viewpoints.
After Friday's ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal, which broke the fragile abortion compromise and thus tightened the abortion law, we must, however, speak out on a fundamental issue for Polish women - our sisters, friends and daughters.
Abortion is a matter for women, not politics or religion. We believe that the difficult choice of giving birth to a child with an incurable defect should be left to the conscience of the woman who has to make this choice.
We are women who, for many years, have been involved in helping other women in a voluntary capacity. We mostly help women who are in the worst economic situation. It is these women who will be the victims of the ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal, and it is these women who will be the hardest hit by this political decision.
We are bitterly aware that the ruling authorities in Poland, and a large part of society, are indifferent to the fate of people with disabilities, and that of their mothers and entire families. By its ruling the Constitutional Tribunal does not leave women a choice - it has forced them to give birth to incurably damaged foetuses. It is inhuman to force a woman to make such a ‘heroic’ gesture. They will not receive any support with a disabled child, they will be left to fend for themselves, without social or psychological help, without the right to mourn. The hardships of being forced to live in this way will fall on the women, their families and non-governmental organisations, such as ours.
Let the women in Poland have the right to express themselves and the right to choose, and let this voice be heard and the choice be made possible.
The Board and Members of the Union of Polish Clubs, Soroptimist International
Karina Mostowik – President of the Union of Polish Clubs,
Katarzyna Piszczako-Pałasz – First Vice President of the Union of Polish Clubs,
Magdalena Szkarłat-Meszczyńska – Second Vice President of the Union of Polish Clubs,
Katarzyna Brykowicz – Secretary of the Union of Polish Clubs, Soroptimist International
Krystyna Domagała – Treasurer of the Union of Polish Clubs, Soroptimist International
Joanna Waszkiewicz – Programme Director of the Union of Polish Clubs, Soroptimist International
Dorota was a wonderful good person. She believed in everyone and always looked for the positives in everyone. She was well-liked in our club. She loved people. Her particular characteristic was her great affection for people and so she had many close friends and knew many people with whom she liked to spend time. Her warm smile and genuine warm words were a balm for any problem. She was a great listener and gave good advice. Despite problems in her own life she never forgot those in need. She cared about others and saw the good in people.
She had been a Soroptimist since 2012 and from the very beginning was an active member of the Bielsko club and the instigator of many wonderful projects. Thanks to her involvement our first project in 2013 “Wiemy co Mamy” (We know what we have) which helped mothers with disabled children who use the “Little Castle” in Rydołtowice which caters for such children, was a great success.
Between 2013 and 2015 Dorota was the club secretary and in 2017-2019 she was the vice-president. Despite her illness she actively took part in the club’s activities and in all events connected with fighting against violence towards women. Dorota was already very seriously ill when, in November 2019, she was with us in Sarni Stok shopping centre to give out leaflets with information where to seek help in case of abuse. She was particularly interested in the life of the Roma on the Kabaty estate in Żywiec where she went with Christmas presents for the children and where she gave private lessons to a Roma girl. She was enthusiastic about helping to organise our charity balls and took part in them herself always wearing a smile and a funny costume. Although Dorota was already weak and very ill while we were organising the last ball, she still recommended someone she knew who turned out to be a sensational Master of Ceremonies.
On 13 May Dorota took part in our club meeting online.
Her death has made our club all the poorer for it. It’s not true that no one is indispensable. We will miss Dorota as an active Soroptimist and as a particularly kind and sympathetic person who knew how to resolve conflict. She will also be missed as a good friend who listened patiently to others’ problems and who supported her friends with all her heart.
Dorota you were exceptional. We will never forget you.
I would like to share some sad news with you.
On 25 June, at the age of 76, after a long illness, we lost our friend and sister from our club, Halina Drabczyńska.
She was born in Cracow but chose to live in Bielsko-Biała.
Halina was one of the founder members of our club and, since its formation in 1991, she had been an active and involved member in a way particular to her – charming, kind, modest, but at the same time very active in the club.
She was a pharmacist by profession, but she had a poet’s soul.
We will miss her, especially as perhaps we did not always appreciate her fully.
She was a model Soroptimist.
We are going through a very difficult time because of this pandemic and it was impossible to hold our normal May meeting. Thanks to Bo Zdzitowiecki, who organized a Zoom meeting for us, we were able to get together virtually. And so, thanks to the internet, we saw each other and discussed club business. We felt as if we were together again.
It was a wonderful feeling.
Thank you Bo.
From 25 November to 10 December, for a full sixteen days, Soroptimists were actively engaged in a show of solidarity - standing up against violence towards women. Unfortunately women often encounter violence.
These days of action were initiated in 2009 and since then SI has tirelessly and consistently organised various activities every year.
We would like to say a big thank you to Advocacy coordinator Anna Szeremeta for preparing the campaign in 2019. Her commitment, determination, boundless energy and love which she put into the work resulted in “Orange the World” being a spectacular event in Poland, while Ewa Karwan-Jastrzebska’s posters and banners were seen throughout the SI European Federation.
In 2019 towns and cities where SI clubs are located were all ‘painted’ orange - well-known and popular building were illuminated with orange lights. We organised discussion panels, meetings, performances; we put up orange posters and banners in many towns; we dressed in orange; we spoke about the problem of violence against women on the local radio; we wrote about the campaign on social media. We did all this to highlight the problem of violence against women and to strive to eliminate it from our life.
Soroptimist International Warsaw Club invites you to take part in a discussion
AGAINST VIOLENCE, ORANGE THE WORLD
on 25 November 2019 from 7 - 9pm at Zacheta National Art Gallery 3
Stanislaw Malachowski Sq. 00-916 Warsaw
The topics for discussion will be: countering violence against women; how women’s organisations can help victims of violence; activities of foundations involved with educating and providing psychological help to victims of violence. Participants actively taking part in the discussion and making valuable contributions will be rewarded with literature on the subjects of the discussion. The books have been funded by Krytyka Literacka and Wielka Litera publishing houses.
Panelists taking part in the discussion will be:
Dr Ewa Woydyllo-Osiatyńska, psychologist and addiction therapist, the author of numerous publications such as “I choose freedom, or how to free yourself of addiction”, “An invitation to life”, “The secrets of women”, “We - the parents of adult children”, “In harmony with yourself”, “Cancer of the soul”, “About alcoholism”.
Olga Żmijewska, founder and president of the Art of Freedom Foundation, expert on culture, social activist, writer and photography artist.
Ilona Sobol, therapist, personal development
trainer, instructor of creative techniques in therapy and education.
Joanna Garnier, vice president of LA STRADA Foundation
Renata Durda, director of Blue Line (National emergency service for victims of domestic violence)
Aleksandra Bagrowska, manager of the Emaus Catholic Community Club of Life, a women’s shelter
The discussions will be chaired by Anna Szeremeta,
a member of the Soroptimist International Warsaw Club.
The discussion marks the opening in Poland of ORANGE THE WORLD, an international event beginning on 25 November and lasting sixteen days. Honorary patrons of the Polish Soroptimists’ initiative are the presidents of the cities of Warsaw, Cracow, Katowice, Bielsko-Biała and Slupsk, the mayor of Cieszyn and the Polish Embassy in Rome.
On 3 October 2019 we held a formal meeting of our Club to bring to a close the highly industrious two-year presidential term of office of Urszula Machowska. The occasion simultaneously marked the beginning of our new President tenure.
We began our meeting with the candle lighting ceremony. This, as always, was very moving.
Ewa Sum, the President elect, lit a candle for our SI Bielsko-Biala Club. Anna Plater-Zyberk, chair of the Statute Commission of the Union, lit a candle for the Polish SI Union. Katarzyna Brykowicz, the President of the Polish Union, lit a candle for the SI European Federation. And Beata Mikuszewska, the doyenne of our Club, lit a candle for World Soroptimism.
The outgoing President presented a detailed report of the tasks and projects which had been accomplished during her term. One of the most highly rated of the projects was the training of volunteers to work with “Zameczek” in Rudoltowice, a centre for children and young people with special needs. Urszula warmly thanked her immediate collaborators and presented them with small handmade presents. She also expressed her gratitude to all members of the Club for their work and cooperation.
We greatly appreciate the way Urszula led the Club in a democratic and extremely organised way. We also acknowledge her hard work and great empathy.
Urszula – thank you very much for your commitment and warm smile for each member of our Club
On a very sunny day we combined our annual autumn picnic and European Heritage Days 2019 by spending Saturday 14th September at the Pszczyna open-air museum, i.e. the Polish Countryside Farm.
It was a splendid idea to come here. The sight of old kitchen appliances, an ancient mangle and cabbage shedder brought back childhood memories for some of the older members of our club. We watched embroidery, wicker-making and beekeeping demonstrations; also crocheting with needles, as well as with fingers (yes, fingers - Dorota had a go!). We were given a practical lesson in making wreaths and garlands of live flowers. There were so many attractions that it is difficult to list them all. We listened with great interest to a talk about Silesian ladies’ traditional costumes from the 19th and 20th centuries given by historian and ethnography enthusiast, Tomasz Wrona from Mysłowice. He showed us tunics, petticoats and zippers of yesteryear –still fashioned today - pointing out the significant details relating to cut and finish. And there were also Silesian scarves woven from delicate, soft wool with beautiful oriental patterns - traditional headwear for the ladies of Silesia.
Marysia S., the organizer of this year's picnic, prepared a lovely party for us at her home. A little tired after our walkabout, we rested in her wonderful garden on a lawn which resemble the gardens of Buckingham Palace. We grilled sausages, tasted the delicacies people had brought with them and talked about various things. We had fun, it was pleasant and very much in the spirit of Soroptimism.
On 2nd March 2019, with
friends and supporters in attendance, the club held its traditional charity ball at the Łodygowice Lodge which brimmed with song and dance. The theme of our ball on this occasion was based around
the magical world of Stanisław Wyspiański's classic drama The Wedding.
Dressed as characters from the play we danced together and had a wonderful time.
The ball was a great success.