What is the WI?
The Women’s Institute is a member-led network of social groups for women.
It has approximately 220,000 members and celebrated its 100th birthday in 2015.
Speakers are usually invited to a main monthly meeting to share their expertise, experiences, or skills.
Many WIs, such as The Hive WI, also host various subgroups throughout the month for members to socialise, share hobbies, and develop specific interests.
The Structure of the WI
The WI is a huge organisation.
Individual WI groups are independent local charities for any woman over the age of 18 to join. There are over 7,000 WIs across England, Wales, and the Islands.
Each WI group belongs to a regional federation of WIs.
The federations are charities proving various opportunities for WI members in their region. There are 69 federations across England, Wales, and the Islands.
These federations are in turn governed by the National Federation of WIs.
The National Federation of WIs (the NFWI) is a national charity set up to represent WI members across the UK and provide guidance and support to WI federations and groups.
The NFWI board provides overall leadership to the WI organisation.
How WIs are Run
Each WI has a committee consisting of at least a president, a vice president, a treasurer, and a secretary.
The committee members are the trustees of the WI and are elected at the Annual Meeting. The committees’ duties are to conduct the business of the WI, administer the funds, suggest policy and plans of action, and present the same to the members for their approval. Additional members may be coopted to the committee for specific duties and immediately become full members with equal rights and responsibilities.
As WIs are run by and for members, all committee members – including the President – have paid their membership costs like any other member.
They organise the WI and carry out the wishes of their WI family.
A lot of work goes into making sure things run smoothly.
Non-committee members are encouraged to give their opinions and suggestions and are equal to any member on the committee.
It costs £42 a year to be a member of the WI.
This money is used to hire venues, pay for speakers, buy materials or equipment for activities, and provide refreshments at the meetings.
Each WI holds eleven main meetings a year, and each WI chooses its own programme.
This means that different WIs can be wildly different from each other!
Every member is encouraged to contribute ideas for speakers, activities, and events.
So long as you have the imagination (and the funds!) the possibilities really are endless.
Many WIs have several interest groups that run throughout the year.
These groups are suggested and run by members and, just like the yearly programme, vary from WI to WI.
They are a great way to get to know others members and make friends, as well as keep up with and develop hobbies and personal goals.
WI Campaigns and Resolutions
The WI is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK.
All our campaigns are suggested by and voted on by WI members.
Each year, every member is invited to submit a resolution on issues that matter to them to the NFWI board.
These resolutions are then discussed and voted on by lay members at the NFWI Annual Meeting.
The Annual Meeting is open to all WI members, and each WI group is represented by delegates.
The meeting is attended by up to 5,000 women!
Winning resolutions become the core of the WI’s public affairs work as local and national campaigns.
Current key campaigns include:
We post regularly about these topics on The Hive WI Facebook page.
The Hive WI
The Hive WI (that’s us!) is a new WI based in Beeston, Nottingham.
Our main meetings occur every second Wednesday of the month between 19:30-21:30 in the church hall opposite Beeston library.
Between our main meetings, we also have two craft cubs, two book clubs, and a supper club.
We’re keen to be active in the local community and during our first year we donated food to the local food bank, knitted clothes for premature babies in the QMC, and donated Christmas presents to Midlands Women’s Aid.
We can’t wait to see what the second year brings.
See you at the next meeting!