Conservative Women's Organisation
|Conservative Women's Organisation|
|Full name||Conservative Women's Organisation|
|Changes to name||1885 (Grand Ladies Council)
1908 (Central Women's Advisory Committee)
1951 (Women's National Advisory Committee)
1982 (Conservative National Women's Committee)
2007 (Conservative Women's Organisation)
|Deputy||Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland|
|Headquarters||Conservative Campaign HQ
4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ, England
|National affiliation||Conservative Party|
|International affiliation||UN Women|
|European affiliation||European Union of Women|
Conservative Women's Organisation, abbreviated to CWO, represents the women members of the Conservative Party in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In the latter part of the 20th Century, the organisation was known as the Blue rinse brigade.
The Scottish Conservative Women's Council is the autonomous sister organisation of the CWO in Scotland. The Chairman of the British Section of the European Union of Women also sits on the CWO National Executive.
As with all political parties, membership has declined and the CWO had about 5,000 active members in 2012 (although all the women members of the party are actually members). Attendance at the CWO Annual Conference has been between 300-750 in the past five years.
The National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations' Central Women's Advisory Committee (CWAC) was formed in 1908 and officially founded in 1919, although not affiliated to the Conservative Party until 1928. Its roots go back to the Grand Ladies Council of the Primrose League of 1885. It changed its name to the Women's National Advisory Committee (WNAC) in 1951 and again to the Conservative Women's National Committee (CWNC) in April 1982. It changed to its current title in April 2007.
In the latter half of the 20th century, the CWO had more than a quarter of a million members and became the largest women's political organisation in the Western world. For several decades, the women's organisation's annual conference was regularly held in the Royal Albert Hall in London.
According to its website, the CWO is
- The grassroots network that provides support and focus for women in the Conservative Party
- Reaching out to women in all parts of the community
- Campaigning on issues of particular concern to women both nationally and internationally
- Encouraging women to be politically active and to get elected at all levels
- Ensuring that the women's perspective is taken into account because women see things differently from men
- Helping the Conservative Party capture the women's vote
|Chairman of the Conservative Women's Organisation|
|Term length||1 year
(max 3 consecutive years)
The CWO Executive Committee has responsibility for the overall management of the organisation and is composed of:
- CWO Officers (President, Chairman, 3 Deputy Chairmen, Treasurer and Deputy Chairman Europe)
- European Union of Women (EUW) British Section Officers
- The 12 Regional Chairmen plus 2 Additional Executive Members (AEMs) per region
- Up to 8 Co-options
- Up to 8 Additional Members
The National Officers for 2014/2015 are:
- National Chairman - Niki Molnar (since 2013 - also 2011-12)
- National President - Pauline Lucas (since 2011)
- Deputy Chairman - Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland (since 2013)
- Deputy Chairman - Amanda Solloway (since 2013)
- Deputy Chairman - Julie Iles (since 2014)
- East Midlands
- North East
- North West
- Northern Ireland
- Scotland (as Scottish Women's Conservative Committee)
- South West
- West Midlands
Each of the 12 regions are broken into Areas (roughly by county), with each having their own Area Chairman with responsibility to the Regional Chairmen. An affiliated (or recognised) Conservative Association women's group, known as Association CWOs or Conservative Women's Constituency Committees (CWCCs).
Affiliation and Constitution
The organisation is officially affiliated to the Conservative Party. Its last constitution was ratified by the CWO AGM in March 2007 and ratified by the Party Board on April 7, 2007. A revised constitution has been ratified by the CWO AGM on 29 March 2014 and is awaiting Party Board endorsement.
National and Regional elections take place at Annual General Meetings before 30 April each year.
Policy & Research
Although the organisation primarily represents the views of the women grassroots members of the Conservative Party, it is also involved in policy and research, which particularly affect women in the UK. It does this primarily through its CWO Forums - panel based discussion meetings that are generally held in the Palace of Westminster and which are open to men and women, and to people from all political persuasions.
Subjects covered in the last 5 years include:
- Human Trafficking 
- Sexual Exploitation
- 'Big Brother' Syndrome
- Animal Welfare
- Criminal Justice System
- Food Labelling
- Mental Health
- Forced Marriages
- Gang Culture
- Iraq & Afghanistan
- Cyber Bullying
- Local Government
- Rural Poverty
Set up by the then Chairman, Pauline Lucas, in 2010, the development programme trains and mentors women to stand for public office at all levels. Workshops are usually held at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters in London but sponsored Be a Councillor days are held around the UK. Workshops cover communication, interviews, applications, campaigns and finance, together with other "transferable skills". In July 2013, the CWO announced a new workshop as an introduction for women to apply for Public Appointments and Non-Executive Director roles.
The first recorded Conservative Women's Conference was in 1921 and holding an annual conference is part of its constitution. For several decades, the women's organisation's annual conference was regularly held in the Royal Albert Hall.
National CWO Chairmen
Records are unavailable before 1945
- Dame Lucille Sayers (1945–48)
- Mrs Johns Warde (1948–51)
- The Baroness Emmett of Amberley (1951–54)
- The Baroness Elliot of Harwood (1954–57)
- Lady Graham (1957–60)
- Dame Margaret Shepherd (1960–63)
- Dame Adelaide Doughty (1963–66)
- Dame Unity Lister (1966–69)
- Dame Margot Smith (1969–72)
- Dame Shelagh Roberts (1972–75)
- Dame Ann Springman (1975–78)
- Dame Pamela Hunter (1978–81)
- The Baroness Seccombe DBE (1981–84)
- Dame Margaret Fry (1984–87)
- Dame Wendy Mitchell (1987–90)
- The Baroness Byford DBE (1990–93)
- The Baroness Anelay DBE JP (1993–96)
- Mrs Caroline Abel-Smith OBE (1996–99)
- Mrs Marney Swan OBE (1999-02)
- Mrs Pamela Parker (2002–05)
- Baroness Fiona Hodgson CBE (2005–08)
- Mrs Pauline Lucas (2008–11)
- Niki Molnar MBCS (2011–12)
- Katy Bourne (Mar 2012-Nov 2012 - resigned when elected as Police & Crime Commissioner for Sussex Police)
- Niki Molnar MBCS (2013-)
- "UN Women".
- "European Union of Women (UK)".
- "CWO Forums".
- "Policy & Research by the CWO in the past 5 years".
- "CWO Forum - Human Trafficking". ACT London Forum.
- "CWO Development".
- Conservative Women's Organisation - Official Website
- ConservativeHome: New Officer Team Elected to run the CWO
- Blue Blog: Caroline Spelman - The CWO Annual Conference 2008
- Blue Blog: Theresa May - Speech to the CWO Annual Conference 2008
|Party political offices|
2013 – present