For 123 years, Women’s Institute (WI) Members have actively worked together for family, home, community and country. The objective of the first Women’s Institute Branch, formed in Stoney Creek on February 19, 1897, was to improve women’s skills in the art of homemaking and childcare.
The Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario (FWIO) was organized in 1919, giving Members a stronger voice by working together as a united group. Through education and support programs and services, FWIO’s original focus expanded to include personal growth opportunities, government lobbying and health and community wellness projects.
Our most notable initiative, the ROSE (Reaching Ontario Sharing Education) Program, encourages our Branches to help increase awareness and expand the skill sets of both WI Members and people in their communities. As a result, each year thousands of individuals become more knowledgeable on various social, health, domestic and environmental matters through their participation in “ROSE Sessions”.
Today, FWIO has approximately 3,000 Members in 230 Branches across Ontario.
“The Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario is a not-for-profit charitable organization with affiliations around the world, working with and for women in Ontario. Through the network of Branches, we offer educational programming and community support; advocate for social, environmental and economic change, and work towards the personal growth of all women, for home and country.”
- "We envision an Ontario where women work together for safe, healthy communities and pursue an enriched and balanced lifestyle."
WHAT WE DO
One of the objectives at all levels of FWIO is in the conduct of its affairs. In every phase of its work the Women's Institute shall be non-partisan, non-sectarian and non-racial. All Women's Institutes shall be operated for the equal good of all citizens in a democratic manner to ensure that proper opportunity is provided for the expression of opinions and that the rights of a minority are respected. (FWIO Handbook, pg 18, #4a).
FWIO also works to:
- Initiate Programs to Strengthen Families and Communities
We promote good family life skills through programs on family and consumer affairs and support projects such as recycling, improving parenting skills and encouraging responsible citizenship.
- Interpret and Record Local History
We have been officially recording community histories in our Tweedsmuir History Books since 1947. Our Members also work with museums, libraries and schools. As of March 31, 2016, there is now an online platform to allow the public to access the many documents the Women’s Institutes have created across the province, while the original documents remain within their communities.
We enjoy speakers at monthly meetings, as well as crafts, physical activities and tours, both at home and around the world.
- Advocate for Change, Resolutions, Briefs and Letters
We stay informed of current legislation and discuss laws that affect the lives of our Members and their families. We have been staunch advocates for the pasteurization of milk and continue to appeal for improved life skills training in our school systems.
We educate through workshops and demonstrations that provide personal growth opportunities for our Members.
- Identify and Act on Local, National and Global Issues
WI initiates and participates in projects on agriculture, industry and education. We also work to revitalize community spirit, lobby for safer, healthier communities and study international affairs, customs and issues.
- Share a Voice with Women around the World
Through our connections with the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada (FWIC) and the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), we belong to a global sisterhood of women working to improve the quality of life for all women, their families and communities.
- Access to displays, brochures, promotional items, program material, leadership workshops and other resources;
- Access to a variety of scholarships, such as the 90th Anniversary Scholarship for WI Members, valued at $1,000;
- Liability insurance coverage at WI events for the attending general public;
- Hospitality Homes List where Members can stay for $15 a night, including breakfast;
- 10% discount on print and copy services at Staples;
- Members receive 2 issues per year of FWIO’s provincial newsletter, the Home & Country ROSE Garden – 20 pages full of ideas and news about WI projects, activities and Members;
- Monthly email updates from FWIO and the ROSE Program, including programming ideas;
- Ability to network with other WI Members on Facebook through FWIO's private Members Group;
- Access to additional news and resources on the FWIO website available in the Members Login section;
- The opportunity for Branches to set up their own web page;
- The option to participate in District, Area and provincial level activities, conventions, workshops and conferences;
- A voice at the United Nations through representatives at various agencies, such as the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization.
The Branch is the basic building block from which the organization has grown from its inception in 1897. Members belong to a network that connects Branches to Districts and Areas, as well as to the provincial (FWIO), national (FWIC – Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada), and international (ACWW – Associated Country Women of the World) levels of the organization.