Soroptimist International Costa del Sol, based in Mijas, celebrated its 15th anniversary earlier this month.
Laura Domínguez, who joined in 2018 and became president in 2020, reflected on the club's achievement. "I believe that since its inception, SI Costa del Sol has worked for women to labour together and to support each other. We've also collaborated with other women associations from Mijas and on environmental projects," she said.
Laura was the recipient of the Soroptimist International of Europe (SIE) scholarship. "SI Costa del Sol works with those affected by gender-based violence and women in education, so in a way it promotes female empowerment," she said. "Through education, we want to improve women's learning so they can have a better incorporation into the labour market and to be economically independent."
As for the next 15 years, Laura's ambitions for the club won't differ too drastically. "It's been a complicated year because of Covid-19 and we've had to adapt to this new situation," she explained. "Our work will be very important during these first years after the brunt of the pandemic. We want to be able to maintain the support network that SI Costa del Sol has been managing since 2006, and we want to make it stronger," she said.
Laura mentioned that they've started working on the Feed Your Optimism project, which she claims is "very important" to keep up the support network between women, girls, people and, in the end, social assistance. "All that social capital, created 15 years ago here and on a global scale in 1921, should go towards the upkeep of that network."
Soroptimist International is a global club with the goal of creating an ample network of women, founded in California in 1921. Their 75,000 members represent different and diverse sectors of society, encouraging a spirit of service and to spur on high ethical standards in businesses and professions.
In southern Spain, members Jytte Dam and Bente Lerche Christensen wanted to create their own club after failing to find one on the Costa del Sol.
Together with fellow Soroptimists Ellen de la Reguera and Agnes Schelde, the quartet organised several meetings to talk to local women about their proposal, but no one was willing to join them.
Jytte, Bente, Ellen and Agnes- dubbed "Our Grand Old Ladies"- tried to start their own club as an English-speaking one, but saw strong opposition from the SIE, who did not like their proposal.
After a year of hard work and constant effort, an exception was finally made and the Grand Old Ladies got their wish. Recruiting began in February 2004 and by November 2006, the Soroptimist International Costa del Sol was born in Mijas town hall.
The club is unique for the variety of its members. Most are at least bilingual, useful when travelling or when receiving international guests. Many live on the Costa del Sol, having been there for an average of 25 years.