15th MAY 2018

The Associated Country Women of the World has worked for many years to ensure recognition of the role played by families in every country and community.

On 15 May 2018, the world will mark the International Day of Families, and will focus on the crucial place of families in achieving positive, inclusive and strong societies. ‘Family’ can take many forms, and we endorse with enthusiasm greater recognition of all models of the family unit. The strength and stability of the family is critical if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and the United Nations has drawn particular attention to SDG 16, ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’, as a focal point for this year’s celebration of the International Day of Families.

We know that for living standards, safety, and global prosperity to improve, we must achieve peaceful, just, and inclusive societies. Families are key to this and we must ensure that each member of the family is respected, regardless of gender, age, sexuality, social class or other characteristics. Children must be protected, and adults informed, respected, and supported in maintaining and providing for their families. For our societies to be strong, we must have fair recognition of all those within them. The births of children must be properly recorded, and these records maintained securely to ensure that all legal protections are available.

Whilst we recognise that the scope of this will vary from country to country and culture to culture, it is important that this includes access to state resources and fundamental human rights. It is of particular importance that girls are included in the birth registration process, and that the full legal equality of women is established at birth.

The Associated Country Women of the World launched the Global Survey of the Living Conditions of Rural Women in March 2018 in an effort to address the data gap in the Sustainable Development Goals, and to ensure that the voices of women and girls in rural communities are heard on the global stage. The survey will give a ground-breaking data pack on the conditions of rural women and help set the agenda and influence policy on rural women for global bodies. It is linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the 3-year cycle will build data, identify changes over time, and identify the impacts of local and international initiatives, funding, and social changes.

As we mark the International Day of Families we urge all States Parties, NGOs, Societies, and individuals to promote and distribute the Global Survey of the Living Conditions of Rural Women to ensure fair representation and participation of women and their families on the global stage.

Ruth Shanks AM

ACWW World President


© ACWW 2018

Connects & Supports Women and Communities Worldwide


For more information on Birth Registration, visit:

For more information on the Global Survey of the Living Conditions of Rural Women, visit: 


What is ‘ACWW’?

The Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) is the largest international development organisation for rural women, 
Connecting and Supporting Women and Communities Worldwide.

ACWW engages with, and advocates for, women at local, national and international levels.  
It is a ‘not for profit’ organisation registered in England as Charity No. 290367, and the only international charity supported by the WI movement.

How did ACWW begin?

Following peace initiatives after the first world war, moves to establish links between various women’s groups across the continent resulted in the first International Conference of Rural Women, held in London in 1929.

A liaison committee was subsequently set up which, in 1933 in Stockholm, established the Associated Country Women of the World.  Its first President was Mrs. Madge Watts, the same lady who had introduced the concept of Women’s Institutes to Wales from Canada in 1915.

Mrs Alfred Watt













What is ACWW’s purpose?

The main aim of ACWW may be summed up as EMPOWERING WOMEN WORLDWIDE.

acww leadership group






ACWW seeks to:

  • RAISE the health and standard of living of rural women and their families through education, training and community development programmes.
  • PROVIDE practical support to its members and help them set up income-generating schemes.
  • SUPPORT educational opportunities for women and girls, and help eliminate gender discrimination.
  • GIVE rural women a voice at international level through its links with several United Nations agencies.

How are ACWW’S aims carried out?

ACWW has a uniquely down-to-earth approach, offering mutual support, friendship and practical help to its members. This can be through partnership, sharing knowledge, local activities, volunteering and funding projects which help to raise the standard of living of rural communities in some of the world’s poorest areas.

Who are ACWW’S members?

Currently there are some 420 societies and affiliated groups active in 78 Countries around the world which come under the Association’s umbrella. 
Between them they represent over 9 million women

  • By the way, All WI members are affiliated members of ACWW.

Interested individuals and WIs may also get more directly involved by becoming ACWW members.  Check their website for current subscription rates.

Who runs ACWW?

Board of Trustees is elected every three years by delegates attending the triennial world conference. The Board comprises an Executive Committee (World President, Deputy President, Secretary, Treasurer), with six committee chairmen and nine Area Presidents. The Trustees are all volunteers who conduct most of their ACWW activities at their own expense. The day-to-day running of ACWW is carried out by a small staff in the London Central Office.

ACWW Board



The Nine Areas are: 

Canada;  Caribbean, Central & South America;  Central & South Asia;  Southern Africa; 
East, West and Central Africa;  Europe;  South Pacific;  South East Asia & The Far East;  
United States of America.  Each Area holds its own conference every three years.

The Six Committees are: 
Agriculture; Communications & Marketing; Finance; Projects; 
Triennial Conference; United Nations.

What is ACWW’s main focus?

ACWW encourages improved access to Food and clean Water, Education and Sustainable Living for women, families and communities.

ACWW has committed to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and, through the combined work of the Agriculture and Projects committees with its member societies, there is a particular focus on the Zero Hunger Challenge, aiming to end hunger and food poverty globally.

What are ACWW projects?

ACWW provides funds for grassroots Projects which provide access to clean water supplies, literacy and basic education, nutrition, home economics, improved health and sanitary conditions and local agricultural schemes. The organisation also funds leadership skills, entrepreneurship and individual scholarships in social and community welfare.

Everything ACWW does is aimed at helping women to help their families and their communities.

Requests for funding come from the women themselves, nothing is imposed from outside, and the money is given directly to the women. The beauty of an ACWW project is that relatively small amounts of money are applied to small, specific local projects which can be closely monitored to ensure that help is given to that target group. Local monitoring ensures that only viable and worthwhile projects are approved and ongoing feedback confirms that the money has been spent correctly. Projects are community based, and women led.

Where does the money come from?

ACWW is entirely dependent for income on annual subscriptions paid by Member Societies and Individual Members, and on donations.  Legacies and grants are also welcome.

 ‘Pennies for Friendship’ is the Association’s major source of income and supports ACWW’s entire operation.

Additional donations may be directed towards Restricted Funds for specific purposes and projects.  ACWW receives no government funding.

Since 1977 ACWW has funded more than 1,000 community-based, women-led projects, and distributed more than £2.5 million in small grants.

Friends in high places?

ACWW has had Consultative Status as an NGO (non-governmental organisation) at the United Nations since 1947, and has contact with over 35 UN agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO (World Health Organisation) and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation), addressing poverty, hunger, women’s empowerment and the basic human rights all women and families deserve.

An essential part of ACWW’s work is to ensure that the voices of rural women are heard when ACWW’s UN Representatives attend UN meetings in Bangkok, Geneva, Kuala Lumpur, New York and Vienna; as well as occasional representation through attendance and participation at UN meetings around the world.

How do ACWW members connect?

ACWW World Conferences are held every three years in different locations around the globe.  Member Societies may propose resolutions and send delegates to debate issues of international concern. 

The Triennial Conference elects the Board of Trustees for 3 years and approves or rejects recommendations.  It also sets the level of members’ subscriptions.
The most recent World Conference was held at Warwick University in August 2016, the first time it had been held in England since 1939.  For a full report on this conference see the link above to the ACWW 2016 Conference in Warwick.

The next World Conference is scheduled for April 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

The theme for the current triennium is 
“90 Years of Achievements, Building 90 years of Opportunities”.

How does ACWW get its message across?

The Communications & Marketing committee produces ACWW’s Reports, information and publicity materials, merchandise and souvenir items.  It publishes ‘The Countrywoman’, the Association’s quarterly magazine for members, and encourages the use of modern networking methods.  

Board members and staff are frequently asked to speak to meetings and conferences around the world.

Most WI Federations appoint ACWW Representatives responsible for promoting the organisation through talks and organising events for WI members.  Some reps meet together occasionally to exchange news and ideas, with a view to raising awareness about the organisation and encourage fund-raising.

Notable Dates:

8th March          International Women’s Day

29th April           ACWW Day  –  “Women Walk the World”

15th October     International Day for Rural Women


ACWW, A04 Parkhall, 40 Martell Road, LONDON  SE21 8EN

Tel:  020 7799 3875




Twitter:  @acww_news


ACWW Representative for FEWI:

Philippa Croft  c/o WI Centre at Hatfield Peverel


Click here to visit the ACWW website