Work for Change
Since its creation in 1897, the Women's Institute has helped members achieve hundreds of changes to improve the safety and quality of life in their communities. Because the WI was established under the Agricultural Act of Ontario, members had to follow a strict process to raise awareness at the local level, and obtain agreement to take recommendations to a wider group at the district and area levels. Once widespread support was established, resolutions were put forward to the annual meeting at the provincial level. If the voting delegates from across Ontario supported the resolution, word went back to the members of every branch to begin the work for change locally.The WI in Canada continues to work for change - or advocate - at all levels. Branches select local causes that matter to their immediate community, sometimes working with other local organizations or businesses to achieve their goals. If they have a larger objective that needs wider WI participation, they engage members at the district or area level. For province wide changes that will require work over a longer term and support from government at the provincial level, formal resolutions are still presented to the provincial board of directors.
Each year one or two issues are selected for advocacy at the provincial level. The FWIO is currently working to increase awareness of Lyme Disease and Sex Trafficking at the provincial level. At the district and area level, members have been working to have local governments recognize Intimate Partner Violence as an epidemic. At the branch level, members frequently fundraise or volunteer time to other not-for-profit organizations to achieve change.