Campaigning has been an integral part of the WI for over 85 years and certainly isn’t slowing down now, even if the issues are changing from those of the past. The WI feels that campaigning is one of the best ways for the voices of its members to be heard. WI campaigns of past and present have made (and continue to make) real changes on issues that we feel passionate about.
Looking back at previous campaigns, some topics may seem familiar to you as they are still being discussed today:
- The very first campaign in 1926 was focused upon school dinner provision
- A 1964 resolution was passed against smoking in public places
- Lobbying in the 1970s resulted in the first breast cancer screening project in Europe for women aged 50-64
The topics we, as WI members, choose to campaign on are decided at the AGM. Initially, any member can put forward issues which they would like the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) to campaign on – they are known as resolutions.
Once all the resolutions have been collected, a process of debating and consulting begins. In the spring, a shortlist of resolutions is debated in Federations and individual WIs; after this period, a final selection of resolutions are taken forward to discuss at the summer AGM.
If a resolution is passed at the AGM, it then becomes a mandate and forms the basis of campaigning and awareness activities carried out throughout the WI membership in the years ahead.
In June 2013, a resolution was passed which focused on the ‘decline of our high streets and town centres’. This is an issue that the Sotonettes felt strongly about, you can read more about the High Street Campaign here.
If you would like to find out more about the history of WI campaigning as well as the current resolutions and mandates, there is a great section on the WI website.