Supporting Women Worldwide: ACWW

WI and the World

The WI does not just tackle domestic issues, but also international issues through campaigns on human rights, debt relief, fair trade and issues around the marketing of baby milk formula. 

In addition the WI is a strong supporter of the ACWW. 


Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW)

The ACWW has 460 Member Societies, in over 70 countries,* working to improve the lives of women and their families worldwide.  ACWW works in partnership with its members, offering mutual support, friendship and practical help to women and communities around the world. 

The national WI is a member of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW).  Many individual WIs, including Shadforth WI, are involved and take part in fund raising for ACWW, to help its important aims in helping women and families worldwideACWW is the largest international organisation for rural women.  It has consultative status with several UN agencies.

ACWW holds a Triennial World Conference at which matters of common interest and concern are discussed.  The NFWI sends delegates to this and other individual members of ACWW may attend.

For example, in 2016 ACWW's World Conference was held at Warwick University in the UK, with many WI members, particularly from Warwickshire Federation of WIs, helping out.

ACWW puts money and education in the hands of women in need around the world, to make a real change for the future of the communities they live in. 

The ACWW work towards:

  • Relief of poverty
  • Relief of sickness and the protection and preservation of health
  • Protection of the vulnerable
  • Advancement of education 


Foundation of the ACWW

Madge Watt, who was highly influential in the development of the WI in Britain, founded the ACWW between 1927 and 1929, after she had returned to Canada and had continued as an activist for the interests of rural women.  In 1929, with fellow-founders Lady Aberdeen (First President of ACWW) and Miss Zimmern, Mrs Watt brought together 24 countries for the first conference of rural women, in London.  In 1930 the 1st ACWW Triennial Conference was held in Vienna and was attended by 28 countries.  


* 2016 figures.




The WI and the ACWW

Through the link with the ACWW, the WI supports: funding projects, for example a project in Kenya helping children affected by HIV/AIDS; providing services to the worldwide membership; liaison with UN agencies on issues relating to the welfare of rural women; meeting statutory obligations.  ACWW assists women in different countries to help themselves, and educate children for the future.

From the 1920s the WI expressed their international awareness through their involvement in the League of Nations and the beginning of the ACWW, in 1933, brought links with several million women in 70 countries.  The WI is affiliated with and supports ACWW, for example with ‘Pennies for Friendship’, an idea introduced in1939.  With this scheme, every member gave a penny which, though individually small, together could have a large effect.  Not just pennies are now given and the fund has grown steadily and now represents a significant part of ACWW’s income.

All WI members are associated with ACWW through National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) membership.  All WI members can contact ACWW direct at their headquarters.  Two WI members - one of which is the National WI Chair - are appointed to represent NFWI on the ACWW Council.  Most WI Federations have an ACWW Representative, who promotes ACWW through talks and events for WI members.  The NFWI also organises ACWW Representatives’ Days, with speakers and workshops, open to any WI member.

Being members of the ACWW also links the WI with other, similarly aimed organisations, including the nearby Federation of Women’s Institutes of Northern Ireland (WINI) and Scottish Women's Rural Institutes (SWRI).  Indvidual WIs and indiviuals can also become members of ACWW.

The ACWW can provide publicity materials, speakers, representatives of other member societies, and more details.

You can find out more from the ACWW website: