I attended a day conference about ACWW (The Associated Country Women of the World) to which all WIs are linked and for which WI members collect Pennies for Friendship and take part in Women Walk the World. It is a shame more members don’t know more about it. Bucks has 2 Representatives who are very willing to come out to talk to individual WIs or at Group Meetings.
Ruth Shanks, the ACWW World President from Australia gave a history of the ACWW stressing its connections with the WI i.e. founded by Mrs Madge Watt in 1929 and that the Lime Walk at Denman College was planted in her memory. There are now 9 million women across the world who about are members in 9 areas of the world each with an Area President. ACWW is not a relief organisation but it is set up to help women less fortunate than ourselves. It has been connected with the United Nations since 1946. Ruth then went on to advertise the second Triennial World Conference to be held in UK, at Warwick University in August.
Alison Burnett, the ACWW Treasurer from Scotland explained the finances of the organisation and stressed the importance of the WI’s contribution through Pennies for Friendship, collection of old coins, jewellery and stamps; legacies were very useful too. To cut down on expense Skype is being used and video conferencing. Alison suggested that individual WIs and Federations should approach the London HQ to obtain speakers for their meetings whenever officials come to the UK on ACWW business or even offer them accommodation. She also suggested that WIs set up penfriends across the world. It costs a WI £32 for an annual subscription. Alison also, justifiably, criticised the NFWI for not mentioning ACWW in its centenary celebrations.
Henrietta Schoeman, who will chair the Triennial Conference, from South Africa gave us a rundown on the 1000 projects undertaken from 1977. She described the weeding process which applications go through before they are adopted and how they are monitored. Henrietta praised the work of WIs and thanked us for all our help. In our monthly letter you will see that the next project which Bucks is promoting is in the Cameroons so watch out for information on that.
Margaret Yetman, Deputy President and Chair of the Agriculture Committee, described the work undertaken on projects with the aid of United Nations and FAO, namely the Zero Hunger and the Women to Women campaigns. It was interesting to hear about growing spinach, mushrooms and edible snails in polythene tunnels in Mongolia.
In the afternoon we watched a cookery demonstration by HRH Princess Azizah of Malaysia who is Area President for South East Asia and the Far East. I was fortunate to have been sitting at her table during the morning and she was very amusing to talk to. Her demonstration was ambitious and included some of the recipes from her ACWW cookery book. The Princess struggled with an induction hob for the first time in front of 100 people and unable to use her own favourite pans. However she was calm and held everyone’s attention and produced some lovely food.
I really enjoyed the day. I talked to some other members from Bucks and some from Oxfordshire, Kent and Northumberland. There are still day tickets available for the Warwick conference at a cost of £85 ( see the NFWI website). WIs may become members of ACWW for £32 and I think individuals pay £20 but you had better check that. You receive an interesting magazine with information about all the good work being done across the world.