Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Women's Institute

The Women’s Institute (WI) is an organisation which has been present in the UK since 1915 and which today counts more than 205,000 members all over England, Wales and the Islands. There also exist such independent organisations in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Initially, the Women’s Institute Movement was a Canadian one, founded at the very end of the 19th century (1897), but it spread in the UK especially during WWI when women were encouraged to produce more food. The preoccupations of the WI have evolved over the time and the changes that it has brought. The current goal of the WI is to help women to get a more important voice of their own in the fields of education and to defend issues which are important for them and their communities. They have also started several campaigns, as, for instance, the “Climate Change Campaign”, the “End Violence Against Women Campaign”, “Love Food Campaign”, campaigns about renewable Energy and so on. If you feel like supporting one of these issues or the many others they defend, take a look at their official website and who knows you will maybe want to become an active member of this association...

The Women’s institute is nowadays the largest women’s organisation in UK, where it has been for long an institution, but it is mainly since 2003 that it has become famous in the rest of the world thanks to the film “Calendar Girls”. This film tells the true story of the Rylstone Women's Institute in North Yorkshire, whose members decided to change the traditional themes of their annual calendar and to pose nude instead. Their goal was to sell as many copies as possible in order to raise funds for the hospital where one the members’ husband, John Baker, who suffered from leukaemia has just died. The photographs represent the naked women performing the activities that they teach at the Women’s Institute. It turns out that the calendar becomes a best-seller and to make almost one million dollars of benefits for the local hospital.
Maud Michel & Anaïs Noël

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