Hereditary Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, along with Prince Albert II, visited the ‘Terrasses du Casino’ on November 24 to celebrate the centenary of the Soroptimist International club.

To mark the anniversary, their father looked on as the twins planted a Jacaranda from South Africa. The purple-flowered tree is very prevalent in Princess Charlene’s country of origin. The children were also accompanied by year 3 (2nd grade) pupils from Saint-Charles’ primary school.

Yveline Garnier, President of the Monegasque delegation of the Soroptimist club, recalls this very special day: “It was an incredible day for us.  For one thing, miraculously, there was an extraordinary blue sky after several days of bad weather.  The weather was dry, which is ideal for planting a tree.  Also, because the twins were not alone, they had their classmates with them.  We had a very pleasant time! »

Promoting the cause of women

Beyond the symbolism of the tree, this was a celebration of a hundred years of actions around the world.  The Monaco branch has been in existence since 1978, but the first Soroptimist club was created on October 3, 1921, in California.  Today, Soroptimist has nearly 6,000 clubs around the world, in almost every country. “We provide women with an international professional and social network,” explains Yveline Garnier. “We contribute to improving the living conditions of women in a very concrete way.”

48 years ago, our sponsor at the time was Princess Antoinette

Among the concrete actions, is the creation of the non-profit “Jeune J’écoute”, managed today by Princess Caroline. The organisation provides support and listening to children and adolescents, as well as their families. Another major action initiated in 2000 by Soroptimist: Handiplage, partly funded by the Prince’s Government since 2015.

Of course, Soroptimist’s battles are not only waged in the Principality.  They fight against Alzheimer’s disease, against AIDS, for cancer research, education for all … The charity collects donations to finance numerous operations, with the support of Prince Albert II. “He has always been close to us, as is the Princely Family. 48 years ago, our sponsor at the time was Princess Antoinette,” says Yveline Garnier.

Handiplage: a flagship action in Monaco

At the same time, Soroptimist’s actions also focus on the protection of women. Internationally, the club finances in particular empowerment and self-esteem training courses for battered women. The Minister of State, Pierre Dartout, has also invited Monaco’s Soroptimist delegation and other feminist organisations to address the issue of female victims of domestic violence.

The biggest battle in the Principality remains Handiplage, which enables people with disabilities to enjoy the sea in complete safety thanks to suitable equipment and qualified professionals. “Each year, we have to change the equipment, so we must continue to receive donations to finance the costs”, explains Yveline Garnier. “It is something that is long-lasting , which will be around for a lifetime. And unfortunately, we never know when we might need it, whether through accident or old age.”

It is possible to join Soroptimist Monaco, or to financially support its actions via the organisation’s website.