The WI came to Britain from Canada in 1915 and the first WI was in Anglesey.
Its purpose was revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. This aim is as valid today as it was then and has been extended to include women who have an interest in country matters but who do not necessarily live in the country. The organisation's aims have broadened and the WI is now the largest voluntary women's organisation in the UK. The WI celebrated its centenary in 2015 and currently has almost 220,000 members in approximately 6,300 WIs.
The WI offers all kinds of experiences to all kinds of women. It plays a unique role in providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.
The WI is non-sectarian and non-party political. However, this does not prevent WIs from concerning themselves with matters of political and religious significance provided the views and rights of minorities are respected and provided the organisation is never used for party-political or sectarian purposes.
Each WI is as good as its members and the WI is what you make it. Whatever the interests of individual members in a WI, with enough enthusiasm, they can be followed.
NATIONAL FEDERATION of WOMEN'S INSTITUTES The national headquarters of the WI are located in Parsons Green, London. There is also an office in Cardiff for NFWI-Wales, and an adult educational residential college, Denman, in Marcham Oxfordshire. The NFWI employs around 70 staff, headed by a General Secretary. For more information visit www.thewi.org.uk
WI Enterprises is the trading arm of the organisation, which exists to raise funds and provide benefits for members. One of these benefits is the WI membership magazine, WI Life. Companies wishing to explore sponsorship or advertising opportunities should visit the commercial opportunities section of the site.
Each WI is self-governing within the framework of the WI constitution and rules and belongs to one of 69 federations – each with a regional office. The 6,300 WIs and 69 federations make up the National Federation. For more information about the Staffordshire Federation of Women's Institutes visit www.sfwi.org
The WI has a long history of campaigning on a wide range of issues since 1926. With approximately 220,000 well informed and active members, the WI is widely recognised as a powerful force for positive change. Resolutions and campaigns start with individual members with local WIs. We have produced one ourselves. Look at organ donation on this site for more information.
Since the first mandate was passed the WI has been campaigning and raising awareness on issues of local, national and international concern. The WI has campaigned on important issues such as equal pay, the decline in rural services, the plight of the honeybee, and also international concerns such as global warming and the trafficking of women and children. These issues reveal WI members’ concern for social and environmental justice, combined with their willingness to take action to achieve it.