Where do resolutions come from?

We’re writing a series of blogs on the WI tradition of campaigning and the issues that are relevant to the women of today.  If you missed our earlier post, find it here to get to know the history of WI campaigns.

We wanted to find out how resolutions came to be and how they evolve before they reach every WI in the country to be voted on.

Get involved!

We contacted Rachel Barber, Head of Public Affairs NFWI, who has provided us with information and encouragement to get involved. The process is quite straightforward – there is a simple form to complete (click here to see last year’s form here as an example), which requires a few pieces of information:

  • what the problem is,
  • what the campaign hopes to achieve, and
  • information on any other bodies that may be working on this campaign.

Once you (or a group of you) have completed the paperwork, the local WI, in our case the Sotonettes, will need to vote. If a majority of our members support the resolution, it will be submitted to our Federation (Hampshire) for them to consider and submit it to the NFWI.

Long lists and short lists

The successful resolution is then long-listed, at which point the NFWI will research the issues and develop briefing papers to assist the short-listing process. We don’t need to be involved in this part; however, if you have strong and evidenced arguments supporting your campaign proposal we see no harm in including this with any submissions.

In previous years there have been between 20 and 50 resolutions proposed. Below are a few examples… you can see the proposed resolutions cover a very wide range of issues.

Weekend Hospital Cover
Chinese Lanterns
Dignity in dying
Motorised Scooters
Online Bullying
Ovarian Cancer – a silent killer
Stop Cold Calling
Shared Spaces in Cities, Towns and Villages
Compulsory wearing of cycle helmets on roads
Stop Casual Sexism
National Vaccination Programme for Meningitis B
Dangers of hidden sugars
A new WI anthem to mark a new century
Impartial Career Guidance for young people

The Committee found these lists provided a great deal of food for thought; if you would like more information please contact us at sotonettes@gmail.com.

Remember, just because some of these issues above have not been short-listed does not mean they are not suitable campaigns, it may be that a slightly different argument can be presented.

A high profile and relatively recent and ongoing campaign has been Jean Johnson’s campaign for legalising prostitution. Although it has not become a national WI campaign, it started life as a resolution proposal. It appeared in Channel 4’s programme A WI Lady’s Guide to Brothels where “Middle England meets the sex trade head-on when the Hampshire WI emerges as an unlikely champion of the reform of prostitution laws”. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be available to watch online any more but if it’s repeated, we’ll let you know!

The issue continues to be debated and discussed with ongoing discussions taking place on radio shows such as Woman’s Hour. There are a number of Woman’s Hour shows discussing different aspects of the sex trade, including why men pay for sex. They were all quite interesting to listen to but if you’d like to listen to the main episode that was broadcast last month, you can find it on the BBC website.

If there is something you strongly believe would benefit from support of the WI, or simply some national attention, this is the place to start. Add your suggestions below or get in touch with the Sotonettes by email, on Facebook or Twitter so we can work together and broaden our campaigning horizons.

Book Club update

Our next Book Club meeting is tonight (Tuesday April 15th) – if you’ve always thought about coming along but have never been yet, make this your first meeting!  Reading the book isn’t necessary and we know a lot of you have seen the TV adaptation of this month’s book, The Ice Cream Girls! For more information, see our Book Club page.

Thank you all for your book club votes you submitted ahead of March’s meeting – it’s your book club and it’s great to have your top choices of books for the rest of 2014! See your choices below:

May – The Help by Kathryn Stockett
June – The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern
July – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
August – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
September – Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks
October – I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
November – The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
December – no book club meeting

For February and March’s book club meetings we read two fabulous books: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. As seems to be a theme for the Sotonettes Book Club (!) opinion was divided on both books!

gone girl coverGone Girl

A psychological drama, the story starts with the sudden disappearance of Amy, Nick’s wife. As the story unfolds we learn all is not as it seems through a series of surprising and shocking plot twists. It’s all but impossible to write about this book without giving away some serious spoilers – how the plot unfolds and the journey of how the truth is revealed is a key part of the book so we won’t ruin that for you!

Where we disagreed: Some of us felt the story was slow to get going, but others were hooked from the start!

Areas we agreed on: Most of us felt that towards the end the story everything became a bit rushed and the plot twists and behaviour of some of the characters became a little unrealistic and even implausible at times… and we wanted a different ending!

What do you think – do you agree?

Our ratings:
Plot – 6.5/10
Portrayal of women – 7/10
Writing style – 4/10
Enjoyment – 6/10
Discussion – 9/10
Sotonettes Rating = 6.5/10

Handmaid's TaleHandmaid’s Tale

This was another controversial book which generated a lot of discussion – both about the book itself and wider issues about society, the past, present and future.

The story is told by Offred, a woman in the middle of a changed world. Set a little way in the future in the US, a totalitarian regime has taken away the rights of women to have any independence – to earn money, to even read. Family, love and a woman’s right to choose is entirely lost. Hope is found however, in acts of defiance and an underground resistance.

It’s certainly fair to say that this dystopian fiction isn’t a ‘cheerful’ book, and may not appeal to those looking for a more classic happy ending. We felt that this book, in its subject, plot and structure (without giving too much away!), is designed to get the reader thinking about big issues including the role of women in society, politics, the control of information, and religion.

We found this book very emotionally powerful, an enthralling page turner. Told from just one perspective as a glimpse into a complex and dangerous world, we get a real sense of the isolation and suppression of individuals in the fundamentalist regime described. Published in the 1980’s, this novel remains a highly relevant must-read today.

Our ratings:
Plot – 9/10
Portrayal of women – 9.5/10
Writing style – 8/10
Enjoyment – 7.5/10
Discussion – 9/10
Sotonettes Rating = 8.6/10

Afternoon tea anyone?

Lady Carnarvon

Lady Carnarvon at Highclere Castle

Hampshire WI cordially invites you to Afternoon Tea (with sparkling wine!) on Tuesday the 3rd of June.  In addition to scones, sandwiches and sweet pastries, Lady Carnarvon – resident of Highclere Castle (the setting for Downton Abbey) – will be speaking. Judging by her blog, I’m sure there will be plenty of funny anecdotes to be shared!

The Tea will be held at the Botleigh Grange Hotel near Hedge End and tickets are £30 per person. You are also invited to dress up and think Garden Party or Downton Abbey… maybe it’s time to get our hats out! If you’d like to attend, get in touch with us and we’ll send you the contact details to get a ticket.

Sotonettes go running!

Our new Sotonettes Secretary, Alice, tells us a bit about her running career so far and the Running Group which she recently set up.

I decided to set up the Running Group in February 2014 after yet another attack on a female runner on the Common. It felt unsafe to run there alone as I was planning to do and I thought the Sotonettes would be the perfect way for me to find some running buddies.

I also wrote to the local councillors and MP for the area to complain about the lack of safety on the Common as attacks happens there far too regularly, on both males and females. I can’t say this has been too successful yet, but it is ongoing and we are trying to work on campaigning to Reclaim the Common! If you’d like to know more about this campaign, read our blog posts here and here.

By no means am I a pro runner – from starting out slowly on a treadmill last year, I moved onto doing the Couch to 5K app; this is a NHS initiative to get people moving and is free.  I then branched out into running outside in January of this year around my local area in Shirley.

From those humble beginnings, I am proud to say that I have just completed a 10k race! This was the Bournemouth Bay Run for the British Heart Foundation, for which I raised £240. I’m so proud of this as I don’t find running easy at all – it’s been really challenging but I have enjoyed the buzz afterwards, the ‘runner’s high’, and feeling myself get fitter as I run further each time.

Here’s me just before the run…


The Sotonettes Running Group meets on Sunday mornings at the Cowherds on the Common. So far, we have stuck to the same route which is an easy 3k around the Common. We organise ourselves through a Facebook group – click here to join it and find out when we’re next running!

We’re more of a running buddies group than a proper training club like Lordshill Road Runners or Southampton Running Sisters (both of which I’ve heard great things about). Anyone can turn up and join us, there are no requirements or special equipment needed, just a decent pair of trainers, water if you’d like some, and maybe a hoody or warm top, although as the weather is picking up, hopefully you won’t need one for much longer! (I must admit, I have run in the rain a few times and it can be quite refreshing!)

If the Sunday is no good for you, I’d be interested in going one weeknight too and this could be arranged if there is enough interest.

I’ve also attended the Parkrun 5k on the Common – this is held every Saturday morning (the 9am start is painful though!). I really enjoyed it; there is a really good atmosphere of everyone running together and I wasn’t the slowest, which was a relief! There’s no competitiveness there, it’s all for the fun of it.

If you’d like to join us, please do come along on a Sunday morning, or contact us for any more info!

Alice x 


Would you like to visit WI HQ?

The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) has its headquarters in Fulham in London.  Each year, they open their doors to WI members from across the country and offer a chance to have a look around and find out more about the work of the WI at National level.


This year, the open days will be Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th October 2014.  A morning and afternoon session is offered each day but this seems to be an oversubscribed event so expect a ballot to take place!

The Sotonettes have never been but it sounds like a good day out and we’re sure it could be combined with something else in London too.  If you’d like to go, more information can be found in the flyer here. To get a copy of the booking form, email us at sotonettes@gmail.com and we’ll send you one.

Closing date for booking forms is Thursday 31st July.

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