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Category: Organization-not-for-profit SOV Awardee FY: 2019

Soroptimist International aims to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. It envisions them to have resources and opportunities to reach their full potential and live their dreams. The beginnings of Soroptimist in the country can be traced to two (2) women - Mariquita S. Castelo, a Filipina, and Betty Prosser, an American, who worked for the establishment of the first Soroptimist Club in the Philippines in 1964.

Thirty (30) years later, in August 1994, a group of professional women based in Mandaluyong City decided to form the Soroptimist International Mandaluyong (SIM) with a strong belief that Mandaluyong City needed women leaders who can serve as role models who are willing to offer their time and services to empower marginalized women and girls.

"Feeding Children, Teaching Mothers" is SIM's flagship program and which has been implemented for 20 years now. The program includes 90 days feeding of undernourished children two to six (2-6) years old and providing learning opportunities for both the children and their respective mothers. Done with the supervision of the Barangay Nutrition Scholar and a nutritionist-dietician from the Mandaluyong City Nutrition Committee and support from the teachers and parents of the children, the feeding improved the health conditions of the pupils. Parents have also learned from lectures on health, parenting, disaster response, and other concerns relevant to them.

In 2018, SIM piloted "Empowering Teenage Mothers for the Sustainable Development Goals- Family-based Actions for Children and their Environs in the Slums (SDG-FACES)" in Brgy. Addition Hills, which is one of its adopted barangays. SDG-FACES aims to educate women and teenage moms on various children-and-women focused Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators and how they can benefit and at the same time contribute to the attainment of the SDGs. Two hundred (200) women, which include forty (40) teen moms 14-18 years old and their family members, and other women in the community benefit from opportunities for alternative education, livelihood trainings and other capacity-building activities such as seminars on Magna Carta on Women, reproductive health, effective parenting, personality development, mental health, disaster response among others.

A special arrangement with the Division of City Schools-Mandaluyong made it possible for at least sixteen (16) teen moms to avail of the Alternative Learning System (ALS). The success of four (4) teen moms in passing the Achievement and Equivalency Test - High School Level resulted in the enrolment of two (2) teen moms in Tertiary and Technical-Vocational Education. In addition, two (2) teen moms have gone back to regular high school, and more teen moms have been encouraged to attend the ALS sessions sponsored by the SIM. Twenty-five (25) teen moms joined the livelihood skills training in chocolate making and doll making and were also provided with materials to help them earn income for their families. To date, dolls made by the teen moms were sold to SIM and their network.

A most considerable impact is the evolution of the teen moms' own support group, the Strong Empowered Early Moms (SEEM) which was officially recognized by the City of Mandaluyong in August 2019. In addition, the success of the ALS initial participants became an eye opener for the others to have a positive attitude and outlook in life from being victims to productive members of the community.

The success of SDG-FACES was a critical factor in the implementation of City Ordinance No. 706, Series of 2018, also known as the Children's Welfare Code of Mandaluyong City. In addition, the city will be launching the SDG-FACES project to benefit the teen moms in all its 27 barangays, in partnership with SIM.

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