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National WI Campaigns
- affecting the UK and beyond
Over the years, the WI has passed a number of radical, forward thinking campaigning resolutions, including in 1927, that our seas should be cleared and protected from oil pollution, in 1943, that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work, and in 1973, that all local authorities should provide a full free Family Planning Service.
The WI has an unrivalled reputation as a voice of reason, integrity and intelligence on issues that matter to women and their communities. Debt Relief, Human Rights, Support for British Agriculture, Sustainable Development, SOS for Honey Bees and No More Violence Against Women, are just some of the issues currently on the Women's Institutes campaign agenda. The National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) only campaigns nationally on issues that have been democratically selected by the members.
For up to the minute details of current campaigns see:
AGM - The 2011 AGM will be held at the Liverpool Echo Arena on Wednesday 8 June 2011.
The 2010 AGM took place at the Cardiff International Arena on Wednesday 2 June 2010, with more than 4,000 WI members in attendance.
In 2009 the AGM took place on Wednesday 3 June 2009, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. More than 5,000 WI members attended this event, sponsored by the Charities Aid Foundation, and there were a wide range of speakers. Guest speaker Maureen Lipman addressed the AGM, entertaining the delegates and speaking about her support of WI campaigns.
The 2008 AGM took place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Wednesday 4 June 2008, with more than 4,500 WI members attending.
The 2007 AGM took place at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 6th June 2007. More than 5,000 WI members attended, including a representative from Shadforth WI! Guest speakers included Baroness Hayman, the Speaker of the House of Lords; Stuart Rose, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer; and Alan Cook, Managing Director, Post Office Ltd. Guest singer was Tony Christie!
More than 4,000 WI members attended the 2006 AGM on 7th June 2006 at Cardiff International Arena.
For details about NFWI AGMs see:
From time to time the Public Affairs Department also surveys members on their experiences or views on certain issues that may not be covered by a mandate. In 1999 the NFWI published a report called The Changing Village, based on responses by nearly 5000 Women's Institutes to a survey about the state of rural services. Concerns such as public transport and the closure of shops and post offices have since developed into powerful campaigns.
Selecting the WI Public Affairs Resolutions which become Campaigns
The campaigns that the WI bring to the nation start off as Public Affairs resolutions which can be put forward by individual members via their institutes, by Federations or by NFWI. A shortlist of up to 4 resolutions is chosen by the 70 WI Federations. These are put forward, with brief background notes of each issue, to the individual institutions for consideration. Individual institutes discuss and vote on the issues and their representative votes for them at the annual national AGM. The democratically chosen resolutions will therefore become the issues which will be developed by the WI Public Affairs Department and will lead NFWI campaigns. In this way every member has the chance to put forward a resolution which could ultimately affect UK government policy and even the UK way of life! By discussing resolutions and by getting involved in campaigns at national, county and local levels, all WI members are taking an active role in the issues of today.
How to put forward your own resolution
Any member can put forward a resolution. Your issue must be presented to your institution. If they like it, it must be seconded by another institution and then put forward to the NFWI, usually by September. For further details follow the WI Resolutions link above.
WI Resolutions 2010
A resolution about the Mandatory clear labelling of food with its true country of origin was passed by 99.3% of delegates at the 2010 AGM:
"This meeting urges HM Government to introduce clear and mandatory country of origin labelling on all meat, poultry and fish products sold in this country."
WI Resolutions 2009
The resolution which will be debated at the June 2009 National WI AGM was debated and passed with an overwhelming majority of 99.4%. You can download the SOS for Honey Bees briefing note from the NFWIs website. The text of the resolution is:
'SOS for Honey Bees - Honey Bees play a vital role in the pollination of food crops and in our environment. In view of concerns about the accelerating decline in the UK honey bee population, this meeting urges HM Government to increase funding for research into Bee Health.'
New research as part of our No More Violence Against Women campaign was also launched at the AGM. The research found that women living in rural areas are suffering as much violence as those in towns and cities but are less likely to think that it is happening in their community.
WI Resolutions 2008
A resolution about the Inappropriate Imprisonment of the Severely Mentally Ill: 'In view of the adverse effect on families of the imprisonment of people with severe mental health problems, this meeting urges HM Government to provide treatment and therapy in a more appropriate and secure residential environment.' This resolution was passed with a 97% majority. (The resolution on bottom trawling was not passed as it was voted against by 52% of delegates.)
WI Resolutions 2007
A resolution about the Closure of Community Hospitals was put forward at the 2007 AGM, at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 6th June 2007, urging "HM Government to stop the closure of Community Hospitals, which provide essential services to local people". This was passed with a 99% majority.
WI Resolutions 2006
From the following potential WI resolutions in 2006 some were short-listed for discussion and voting on by individual institutes:
2. Renewable Energy
3. Health Risks
4. Sport for a Healthy Population
5. NHS Community Midwifery Model
6. Secret Ballots
7. Provision of Public Conveniences
The final vote was made at the NFWI 2006 AGM on 7th June at Cardiff International Arena. The resolutions chosen for 2006 were:
Renewable Energy - "This meeting urges all levels of government to put in place legislation and policy requiring the use of renewable energy technologies in all new buildings, re-building and renovation."
Sport For A Healthy Population - "This meeting urges HM Government to: recognise that participation in sport is an essential factor in the creation of a healthy population; ensure the re-establishment of competitive (mainstream) sport in the curricula of all schools; and take such steps as are necessary to reverse the decline in the availability of sporting facilities for all citizens, particularly in light of the 2012 Olympics being awarded to the city of London."
WI Resolutions 2005
Care of our environment - "This meeting calls on WI members to take further action to reduce waste and conserve resources in their own homes and communities; to lobby manufacturers, retailers and decision makers to reduce waste in the production, packaging and transportation of public and consumer goods." (Moved by NFWI Board of Trustees.) Passed with a 99.4% majority.
Farmgate milk prices - "This meeting urges WI members to do all in their power to raise public awareness of the unfair difference between the retail prices of milk and the price paid to the farmer". (Devon Federation Chairman and Devon Federation Treasurer, Federation Representatives for Devon Federation.) Passed with a 99.2% majority.
WI Resolutions 2004
Trafficking of women and children - "In view of the constantly increasing trafficking of human beings, particularly women and children, for sexual exploitation and forced labour, this meeting urges HM Government to put into place legislation to combat trafficking and support victims, and urges all WI members to raise public awareness of this issue." (West Yorkshire Federation.) Passed with 98.5% majority.
The growing of GM crops in the UK - "In the light of growing evidence that the current generation of GM crops are beneficial for neither people nor planet, this meeting strongly opposes the growing of GM crops in the UK and calls on HM Government to prohibit their cultivation." (Belmont & District WI, Herefordshire Federation.) Passed with 88% majority.
An example of the actions following these resolutions is the joint statement by Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International, the National Federation of Women's Institutes and UNICEF UK which called on the UK government to sign up to the new European Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings at the Council of Europe's Summit of Heads State and Government meeting in Warsaw.
WI Resolutions 2003
Children's diets, exercise and health - "This meeting views with concern the increase in obesity and diet-related health problems in children, and the associated risk of chronic disease in later life, and urges HM Government to regulate the promotion to children of foods that contribute to an unhealthy diet and to ensure increased opportunities for exercise and practical food education in schools." (East Witton WI, North Yorkshire West.) Passed with 94% majority.
Care of older people - "This meeting calls upon HM Government to take urgent action in order to ensure that the necessary facilities and services are provided to enable older people, irrespective of their means, to spend their remaining years in comfort and dignity, whether this be in their own home, or in a nursing or residential home of their choice." (Sheringham Evening WI, Norfolk Federation.) Passed with 99% majority.
Vocational training - "This meeting calls upon the Government to concentrate its efforts in promoting and strengthening modern apprenticeship schemes to provide skilled workers for the future." (Gosforth WI, Cumbria-Cumberland Federation.) Passed with 99% majority.
WI Resolutions 2002
Stricter Controls on the Importation of Foodstuffs - "In the interests of the health of both the people and animals of this country, this meeting urges NFWI to put pressure on the Government to implement stricter controls on the importation of foodstuffs into this country."
Support for Local Abattoirs - "This meeting urges HM Government to support existing small abattoirs and to promote the re-establishment of local abattoirs, in order to minimise stress to animals, reduce the risk and spread of disease, and encourage the availability of locally produced meat."
WI Resolutions 2001
Training of Staff Working With Older People - "In view of reports that some elderly people in hospitals, care homes and their own homes suffer abuse, both mental and physical, including neglect, this meeting urges HM Government to ensure that all staff caring for the elderly must undergo specific training for a recognised qualification."
Provision of School Nursing Services - "This meeting urges HM Government to ensure that all school-age children have access to a dedicated school nursing service that is local, responsive and informed by evidence of best practice."
Foot and Mouth Crisis (Urgency Resolution) - "This meeting calls upon HM Government to order a thorough and fully independent investigation into the causes, consequences and handling of the recent Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic, and to take the necessary action at all levels to ensure a sustainable future for farming and our rural communities."
WI Resolutions 1915 to 2000
Below is a selection of mandates, made from resolutions, which have shaped WI policy in the fields of health, education, children's lives and the environment through the decades. They show the evolution of WI policy which has empowered the National Federation and grassroots members to respond to and campaign about issues of concern from the inception of the WI to the present day:
1918: That the provision of a sufficient supply of convenient and sanitary houses, being of vital importance to women in the country, County Federations and WIs are urged to bring pressure to bear upon their local councils and, through the National Federation, upon the local Government Board to ensure that full advantage is taken in their districts of the Government scheme for State-aided housing.
1921: That the National Federation urges all WIs to use their influence to induce Local Authorities to adopt the model set of by-laws for slaughter-houses issued by the Ministry of Health and so save much unnecessary suffering.
1923: That as the sentences in cases of even the grossest cruelty to children are not of a severe enough nature, representation be made by the NFWI to the Home Secretary asking him to issue a circular to Justices urging that adequate sentences be passed against persons found guilty of serious offences against children.
1924: That WIs be asked to use their influence to secure an increase in the number of female police throughout the country and that a female police official be attached to each police station where there are cells.
1924: That the WIs be urged to approach their Local Education Authorities and ask them to endeavour to ensure instruction for all girls of 12 years of age and upwards in plain cooking and other such domestic subjects as can be conveniently coupled therewith...
1929: That this meeting urges on the Lord Chancellor the importance of having at least two female magistrates on every bench.
1930: That in view of the destruction of ancient buildings still continuing throughout the country, this meeting recognises the desirability of strengthening the powers of the Ancient Monuments Act of 1913 and urges WIs to... assist the preservation of ancient buildings in their own locality.
1930: That in view of the cruelty entailed in the training of performing animals and uselessness of the performances and the fact that most performing animals are trained abroad where there is no adequate provision as regards the prevention of cruelty... a law should be passed prohibiting the importation of performing animals into Great Britain.
1931: That this meeting welcomes the introduction of the Will and Intestacies (Family Maintenance) Bill which aims at putting an end to the injustices of the present law whereby it is possible for widows and children to be completely disinherited...
1933: That this meeting, remembering that the NFWI was founded in a time of crisis to serve Home and Country, calls upon all WI members to support efforts in their own locality to deal with unemployment and distress among both men and women.
1934: That in view of the acknowledged inadequacy of the rural water supply over a large part of this country which is a menace to health and entails great hardships to residents in villages and scattered farms, this meeting urges that Institutes should seek to co-operate with the proper authorities by collecting and supplying tabulated information as to the conditions and needs of their area...
1936: That this meeting view with alarm the increasing amount of building on the coasts of the British Isles and with a view to the protection of such unspoilt coastline as now remains, calls upon HM Government to remind Local Authorities of their powers under the Town and Country Planning Act and if necessary to increase these powers and further urges that the footpaths around the coast formerly patrolled by the coastguards should be preserved for public use and enjoyment.
1936: That this meeting calls attention to the urgent need of amendment to the National Health Insurance Acts, so as to allow women who have previously been insured persons to be entitled to medical attendance after marriage, so long as payment of 6d per week (or some sum as may be found actuarially necessary) is paid.
1937: That this meeting urges the WIs to study the terms of the Hire Purchase and deferred Payments Systems and, as far as possible, to help members to understand the danger inherent in the systems.
1939: That the NFWI should make every effort to arouse public opinion on the dangers of leaving children of tender years alone in a house.
1943: This meeting desires to see the recognition accorded to the wartime efforts of the small producer extended and urges the Government, in framing post-war agricultural policy, to make due provision for the views of the small producers...
1943: That men and women should receive equal pay for equal work.
1945: That this meeting welcomes the suggestion of a Women's Institute College, notes with satisfaction the power to provide grants for such a purpose in Clause 100(1)(b) of the Education Act 1944 and instructs the Executive Committee to make the necessary arrangements.
1950: That this meeting, while fully realising the difficulties of the nursing staff, deplores the fact that in some hospitals mothers and fathers are not permitted to visit their children and asks Hospital Management Committees to allow hospital visiting in agreement with doctors and sisters.
1953: That this meeting deplores the wastage of good agricultural land and requests the Planning Authorities to ensure that before planning permission is granted for the use of such land for building sites, full use should be made of all possible sites, either those left derelict by the demolition of old property or of prepared sites which have not been fully developed through change of plans... The Keep Britain Tidy group was started in 1955.
1954: That this meeting requests the NFWI to inaugurate a campaign to preserve the countryside against desecration by litter of all kinds and urges every member of the WIs to make it a personal matter to mitigate this evil. Further that anti-litter by-laws be more strictly enforced.
1956: That the NFWI take necessary action to ensure the abolition of turnstiles in all women's conveniences and that the co-operation of kindred women's organisations be sought to secure this.
1956: This Federation deplores the continued withdrawal of bus and rail services in rural areas and urges the Minister of Transport to review the position concerning rural road and rail transport and take immediate steps for its improvement.
1962: That this meeting urges all members of WIs to make every effort to arouse public opinion to the dangers of fireworks and bonfires and that the retail sale of fireworks should be banned until a fortnight before 5 November.
1963: That this meeting welcomes the improved specialist services proposed by the Minister of Health in the large general hospitals but protests most strongly against the closing of small hospitals in country areas.
1966: That the NFWI should urge the Government to investigate the present state of separated mothers and the difficulties and hardship they often have in obtaining maintenance money for themselves and their children.
1966: That this meeting, noting the Brain Report on Drug Addiction... urges parents and those responsible for children and young people to make themselves aware of the very grave danger in the easy availability of habit-forming drugs and drugs of addiction.
1972: This meeting views with very real alarm the continued under-manning of the police force throughout the country and urges the Government to take immediate steps to improve the conditions and prospects of the police in order to attract more men and women of the right calibre.
1975: While welcoming the Government's Committee of Inquiry in the problems of battered wives, this meeting urges that immediate action be taken to provide alternative accommodation for these women and their children in at least every county if not every town.
1978: This meeting views with concern the complexity of the social security and taxation systems and asks HM Government to institute a complete review with the aim of harmonising and simplifying these systems and eliminating the 'poverty trap'.
1979: That in order to counteract the upsurge in violent crime and vandalism the Government be urged to introduce stronger deterrents against crime.
1982: This meeting considers that public telephone kiosks in rural areas are an essential service especially vital in emergency situations and as such should be protected by Government subsidy if necessary against recovery by British Telecom on commercial grounds.
1983: That this meeting urges the Government to bring in legislation on the status of artificially-produced human and part-human embryos.
1983: This meeting of WIs urges its members to promote and support the provision of hospice care for those patients who desire it.
1985: This meeting urges HM Government and all relevant regional and local agencies to provide immediate and continuing help for drug addicts and their families.
1989: This meeting calls upon HM Government to take action to ensure that the strictest control is carried out on the importation, treatment and disposal of toxic waste material to prevent any kind of pollution to the environment.
1990: This meeting urges the Government to do everything in its power to persuade other countries, especially those which are party to the Antarctic Treaty, that Antarctica be declared a wilderness park within which the extraction of oil and minerals and other commercial, polluting and military activities should not be permitted.
1993: In view of the increased consumption of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural use, this meeting urges the Government to ensure the protection and preservation of this country's rivers, streams and ponds and to limit abstraction of water from underground sources; further to promote long-term planning and co-operation between regions.
1999: This meeting supports research into a test for ovarian cancer - the silent killer. It urges WI members to take part in research programmes and HM Government to set up clinics where any woman can be tested, as soon as a test becomes available.