“Understand, defend and undertake” pursuing a universal Voice for a global Vision. That is the motto of Soroptimist International (SI), the renowned volunteer service organization, held by professional women gathering more than 100,000 members in 107 Countries. This NGO has been offering worldwide a precious support to promote gender equality, human rights and dignity of workers through actions, since its foundation in California (Oakland), in 1921. Its heart opens in any activity within economic and social development, education and culture, healthcare, female promotion, goodwill, peace and environmental protection. And not for nothing the first project of SI aimed at preventing a sequoia forest to be cut down: a strong “green” message ahead of its time.
The Soroptimist International Monaco Club (SIM), founded in November 1978 by France Delarue Ballet by the appointment of H.S.H. the Princess Antoinette de Monaco, has been serving since then as a crucial association by the relevant support of H.S.H. the Prince Albert II of Monaco who appreciates its active commitment in various fields.
Boosting medical research in aid of serious diseases such as AIDS, Alzheimer or visually impaired people; encouraging quality of children education in Africa and Asia; pushing international peacekeeping measures and local projects for disabled people (Handiplage and Audioplage) or in youth field (‘Jeune J’écoute’ project), are only a few of the priorities pursued by the Monegasque Soroptimist Club. A positive energy that spreads from the Principality to the rest of Europe allowing Renata Trottmann-Probst, President of Soroptimist International Europe, to say “We stand up for women”.
After achieving the meaningful age of 40, Soroptimist International de Monaco remains strongly committed to its philanthropic values rooted on a sympathetic team spirit. Thus, what currently inspires Soroptimist International Monaco? Which is its vision of the future? HelloMonaco interviewed Françoise Ragazzoni-Alvaro (F.R-A.), current president of Soroptimist International Monaco.
HelloMonaco: Madame Ragazzoni how do you feel cutting the red ribbon of this celebrated Club?
F.R-A.: I am very proud of being the president of this Club that still exists as a result of the valuable contribution of all members who have been strongly supporting its initiatives for forty years. We had the pleasure to host Madame Delarue Ballet, its founder, during our Anniversary celebration at Hôtel Hermitage in the presence of the Sovereign Prince, in late November 2018, before her disappearance. I want to pay tribute, in this regard, to all past presidents and members who shared the same motto that defines us internationally. Their efforts made it possible to foster our positive image throughout the world.
HelloMonaco: Which are the projects you are most passionate about?
F.R-A.: All members of this Club are devoted to guarantee a full-right condition and a suitable status to all women, proper children education and female egalitarian treatment both at social and professional levels. As a consequence of all that, our anniversary was marked by the launch of a new target, named “Aladin”, focused on the fight against cancer, the leading cause of infant mortality. The selected team by Pascal Pujol, Professor at Montpellier Med School and Head of Department of Oncogenetics at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) in the same town, is involved in better determining the genetic causes of childhood cancer through the most advanced tools to detect its genome among their family members and find the most suitable treatments. As a gynaecologist in the Principality, I am particularly concerned about the emotional stress which any mother is subjected to while facing her son disease. All the money donated (target to be achieved: 190,000 Euros) are being invested in boosting a scientific study involving 90 sick children, in partnership with the Nice CHU and Sainte Antoine Hospital in Paris. A concept that is about to come true rapidly thanks to the generosity of the Sovereign Prince and all other donors.
HelloMonaco: What does it mean for you playing a double female role as a president and as a doctor in the Principality?
F.R-A.: Concerning my presidency at Soroptimist Club, it consists of an honorific title of spokeswoman that symbolizes a team oriented association that always works together. Any member brings a meaningful contribution according to her expertise and I would not be able to do that on my own. This is very important to underline. As far as my professional position as gynaecologist is concerned, it certainly involves responsibility but this is my job and I like any exchange of ideas with both male and female colleagues I work with on equal terms at Princess Grace Hospital.
Hellomonaco: Which are your new projects at Soroptimist International Club de Monaco?
F.R-A.: We are part, with other associations based in Monaco and the Gouvernement Princier, of a newly formed Governmental Committee on violence against women by the will of Céline Cottalorda, Technical Advisor at Ministry of State, delegate for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. This gives me great pleasure and fits perfectly with the annual directives of the current Soroptimist International federation. On the environmental front, we are also cooperating as official partner with the Permanent Secretariat ACCOBAMS in the technical conference following the end of a pilot project to protect cetaceans that will be held on the 27th March 2019.
HelloMonaco: Which values do better describe Soroptimist International Monaco?
F.R-A.: First of all, I would say working to our mutual benefit by ensuring a team cohesion to help the others in the Principality and at an international level. Then, friendship and conviviality are major driving forces in all our events and internal meetings.