The city’s well known gynaecologist Dr. Sudha Dheep was elected as the fourth President of Soroptimist International (SI), Madurai, at a simple installation ceremony this week. She took over charge for the year 2014-15 from outgoing president Sukanya Jegannathan.

The SI started by 80 women in 1921 in Oakland, is an international volunteer organisation for business and professional women working to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities across the world. The Madurai chapter is the 16th Soroptimist Club in India and the second one in Tamil Nadu after Chennai. The Indian branches of Soroptimist International are affiliated to the U.K. body and started with its headquarters in Pune 15 years ago.

In its five years of existence, the Madurai chapter has undertaken several socially useful projects and worked on creating awareness among the city’s residents on plastic waste segregation and management, created a green space, offered scholarships to college students and worked with HIV-positive children.

The Madurai Chapter has 28 members drawn from different professions from Madurai, Sivakasi, Dindigul and Rajapalayam. They have all joined to share their time, talents, and financial resources to enrich the communities and make a difference especially to women.

“We are lucky to have been born in families that respect their women. Let us use this opportunity to bring about changes in the lives of women who are abused when young and negelcted when old and sick,” said Dr.Sudha in her acceptance speech.

As vice president of the club last year, she initiated the “Good Touch Bad Touch” project in various schools. Projects are carefully chosen to address the challenges faced by individual communities and particularly women.

Outlining her priorities in her new role, Dr.Sudha said, she would take up goals for a good cause that will transform the lives of women and girls. In the coming days, the members plan to use education as a tool for ending violence against women. They also plan to hold more awareness and screening camps for anaemia, menopause, breast and cervical cancer. “We would like to do few projects but in a big way for a greater and socially relevant impact,” said Dr.Sudha.

The members intend to continue with more projects on good and bad touch that will educate, enable and empower women and girls besides the ones on safeguarding the environment from plastics and promoting eco-friendly disposal of waste.

Dr.Sudha Dheep’s new team consists of A. Latha as vice president, Sabina Ali as secretary and R.Jayanthi as treasurer.