Adelaide Hoodless – founder of the WI in 1897.
Adelaide Hoodless – founder of the WI in 1897.

The WI was originally formed in Canada in 1897 but was started in the UK in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and to encourage countrywomen to get involved in growing and preserving food to help to increase the supply of food during the First World War.

Since then, the organisation’s aims have broadened and the WI is now the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK.

The WI has a long history of campaigning on a wide range of issues that matter to women and their communities. Over the past 100 years, WI members have campaigned to empower and support women within society, brought a series of controversial issues into the public domain; and instigated many changes in legislation and government policy.

From equal pay to climate change, from gaps in the midwifery workforce to the plight of the honey bee, WI members have embraced a diverse set of challenges and built a reputation for the WI as a practical and ambitious organisation that doesn’t shy away from tricky issues.

In 2015, the WI celebrates its centenary!