History of the Women's Institute
The Women's Institute (WI) was formed in 1915 to revitalise rural communitites and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then the organisation aims have broadened and the WI is the largest voluntary women's organisation in the UK. The WI celebrated its centenary in 2015 and currently has 212,000 members in over 6,300 WI's. The WI plays a unique role in providing women with educational opportunities, the chance to build new skills and to take part in a wide variety of events.
The WI as a force for change
100 Years of campaigning and lobbying Government has led to improving quality of life and gaining influence on local, national and international issues that matter to members and the community.
Every year members have the chance to put forward issues they want the National Federation of WI's to campaign on or raise awareness about. Federation Representatives narrow these down to a shortlist then all WI's select the resolution they prefer. At each stage of the process members have the opportunity to learn about, debate and vote on the issues proposed by their fellow members.
A final vote is taken at the NFWI Annual Meeting. Successful resolutions become mandates for campaigns via our members and Public Affairs Department.
Since its beginnings the WI has been renowned for its vigorous campaigning. You have been ahead of the time on a whole host of issues including equal pay, breast cancer screening, and banning smoking in public places...you have a formidible reputation for standing your ground and showing just what can be achieved when people come together to get things done.
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Home Secretary, July 2014
You are a very powerful force for good in our country...from domestic violence to women's pay; from venereal disease in the 1920's to AIDS in the 1980's. That is a great tribute to the depth of your compassion, your fearlessness in tackling hard issues and the energy with which you further the cause of not just women but British society.
The Rt Hon Tony Blair MP, Prime Minister, June 2000