The “Women’s International Club Athens” (WIC) held its Ordinary General Meeting yesterday, with official guest and keynote speaker UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Ms. Marianna Vardinoyannis.

As she opened the meeting, the Chairwoman of the WIC, Ms. Rania Kouloukakou, welcomed Ms. Vardinoyannis to the event, by saying among other things that: “I am very happy to have Mrs Vardinoyannis as our speaker. An active personality, both at the regional and international level, who strives for the rights of children and their families. Struggling for world peace and solidarity. As a Greek woman, I am very happy about our Marianna, as all Greeks call it” .

Ms Rena Papadopoulou, Activities Officer of WIC, then took the floor to speak about the personality and work of Ms. Vardinoyannis, noting that: “Ms. Vardinoyannis is a symbol of the humanism and a global example of social solidarity”. She referred to her significant achievements, her fight against childhood cancer, and her crucial role as a Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO, where she joins forces with international activists and renowned figures from across the world to defend human rights. She also talked about Ms. Vardinoyannis’ activity through her Foundation for the protection of vulnerable social groups, such as children and immigrants, the promotion of a culture of peace, education and the protection of the global cultural heritage. In concluding her speech, Ms. Papadopoulou said: “Thank you, Marianna, for  giving us HOPE; thank you, Marianna, for your contribution to science that saves lives; thank you, Marianna, because your values urge us all to become better human beings; thank you, Marianna, because you make us proud to be Greeks”.

 She then proceeded to invite Ms. Vardinoyannis to the floor, by quoting Robert F. Kennedy’s words: “Only the ideals of humanity and love can climb the hills of the Acropolis”.

Ms. Vardinoyannis took the floor to speak to the members and the friends of  the WIC on Humanism and Solidarity without borders: The topic that I have chosen for my speech is very close to my heart and is inspired by your own work and mission and by the visions that we share for the building of a better world for future generations, a world of peace and friendship among peoples. “Humanitarianism and Solidarity without borders” is what I strongly believe in, what I have served throughout my life and my work at UNESCO and at the organizations that I have the honour to preside: the “ELPIDA Association”, “Orama ELPIDAS Association” and our Foundation, being at the same time the strongest link between us.  When I started my action by being involved with humanitarian organizations as a young mother 30 years ago and by founding ELPIDA Association in 1990, I was inspired by motherhood. I felt the need to fight for a better world for our children, to give back to society, to support people in need and to help sick children and their families. It was and it is still the greatest duty for me. Over the years, my mission at UNESCO as Goodwill Ambassador provided me with the opportunity to get involved with the major challenges of our times. The background of my action at UNESCO, as it was influenced by the international concerns and a closer look at the global problems, made me see things from a different wider perspective and, at the same time, made my faith to humanitarianism and to social solidarity even stronger. I consider my assignment at UNESCO as a great privilege for me and as an opportunity to fight for a better world that is seen as “one humanity” where we all have “shared responsibility”… The principle of humanitarianism, the prevention of human suffering wherever it may be found, lays on the foundation of every action of solidarity. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being and the human dignity. Humanitarianism promotes mutual understanding, friendship, co-operation and lasting peace amongst all peoples and can be indentified within the collective work of  organisations as well as individuals like each one of you, my dear friends. Because humanitarianism and solidarity have no colour, no nationality and no religion. They derive directly from our feeling of love for our fellow-people and compassion, but also responsibility and awareness,  and they can transform our world, our countries, our societies, our communities, even the life of one family, of one person, of one child.   And this is worth fighting for. Transformation of our societies is so necessary nowadays and humanitarianism is the key. For this reason, it has been placed at the top of the global leaders’ agenda as the vital mean to approach the better future that we all envision…”.

The event was attended by Ambassadors, diplomats and wives of Ambassadors of various countries (such as the United States, Qatar, Belgium, Finland, Indonesia, Chile, Algeria, Georgia, Bangladesh, Turkey), international fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki, Ino Konstantopoulou, Maria Georgiou, etc.