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.
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
Dignity in dying
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.