Our first Reflections story come from Margaret Lobo. Margaret joied Soroptimist International of Perth in 1975, whilst we were still part of the Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. Margaret saw much change as we formed our own Federation and began to govern ourselves. Margaret has held many leadership roles in her club and region, taking on executive leadership roles, whcih included Club reporter for Programme; Health reporter for Region and Programme Liaison; Federation Coordinator for Human Rights and Status of Women, Programme Liaison for Federation and at the International elvel was Co-ordinator for the Human Rights and Status of Women programme area. Having had the experience at Federation and Soroptimist International level, Margaret stood for and was elected Federation President of the South West Pacific for the biennium 1998 - 2000, and then became the International President for the biennium 2008 - 2010.
Margaret refects on her time in both positions
Federation President 1998-2000
When I looked back on my term as Federation President, I was surprised to note that there were many 'firsts'!
To find out why I retracted a few years before I became President - in 1994 then President Janice Macdonald introduced Towards 2020 - a plan to change the structure of our Federation.
In 1998 as I became President it was the first time, we had disbanded our Federation Regional Council and introduced National Representatives, giving each country in our Federation an equal vote.
My first Board Meeting in 1999 was the first time Past Federation Presidents were not invited to attend which was not taken kindly by some!
The Programme Committee meeting was a teleconference, once again the first time this had happened, and it continued for a few years.
At the 1996 Federation Conference held in Perth, S I Townsville put forward a motion to hold the Conference in 2000 in Townsville, regardless of where the President was! Holding a Conference across the continent was not an easy task, but I had a fantastic Conference Organizer and many dedicated members in Townsville that made this Conference possible. I think I only made one trip to Townsville before the Conference. The fax machine worked overtime!
Above photo taken after the opening of Women’s centre in Kira Kira, Solomon Islands with Elders and Chiefs of the village. Lorna Mead is far right
Mongolia showed interest in having Soroptimist clubs in their country during my term. There was great interest after the teleconference we had, once again the first time S I was introduced to a new country via a teleconference. The club was chartered the following year.
It certainly was a term to remember and with opportunity to be innovative.
International President 2008 - 2010
My term as International President was a memorable one. My family came from many corners of the world to Glasgow to witness the special moment of my inauguration, it was so humbling and wonderful. I was lucky to visit Sierra Leone and Project Sierra our final quadrennial project. Then visit Ethiopia to visit my project at the Fistula Hospital. It was during the celebration of Catherine Hamlin's 50th year in Ethiopia, wonderful memories to treasure. (picture opposite Margaret with Catherine at her clinic)
During my term, the Federations had their Conferences in exciting places, that gave me the opportunity of not only visiting interesting countries but visiting some special projects. SISWP had their Conference in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand, I visited the SIAM Project to see the huge difference we had made to the lives of the girls and their families there.
SI America had their Conference in Taiwan; this was a fascinating experience as it seemed everyone in Taiwan knew who I was! The respect and hospitality were incredible, a most memorable time.
SI Great Britain and Ireland had their Conference in Barbados, the travel there from Perth almost took 2 days but every minute spent with friends in Barbados was wonderful. It also gave me the opportunity to visit Venezuela and Ecuador where I visited some great projects. On my way to Barbados I met with many members in Los Angeles, some who had travelled many miles to spend time with me. I still use and treasure gifts I was given. (picture opposite, Margaret with young women in Venezuela who were homeless and are being housed and educated by Venuzuela Soroptimists )
Towards the end of my term SI Eurpoe had their Conference in Amsterdam, my last stop before handing over in Denmark.
Federation President 1998 - 2000
International President 2007 -2009
Image on the left - Margaret in 2008 at the UN in Paris, with a young delegate from S I Americas who attended the meetings, and right with two outstanding Soroptimists Joan Banks and Mary Whitehead at S I Melbourne’s 60th anniversary in 2008