Conservative Women's Organisation

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Conservative Women's Organisation
Full name Conservative Women's Organisation
Short name CWO
President Niki Molnar MBE
Chairman Julie Iles
Deputy Fleur Butler
Deputy Alexia Roe
Deputy Amanda Solloway
Founded 1919
Headquarters Conservative Campaign HQ
4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ, England
Groups CWO Forums
CWO Development
Ideology Conservatism
Political position Centre-right
National affiliation Conservative Party
European affiliation European Union of Women[1]
International affiliation UN Women[2]
Website
conservativewomen.uk

The 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.[3]

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.

There is also a youth wing element called Conservative Young Women which was born out of Conservative Future Women. Conservative Future was disintegrated in 2015 but the work to engage more young women in Conservative politics was continued when it was brought under the control of CWO and rebranded.

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 and 750 in the past five years.

It also sends delegates to the National Conservative Convention, the parliament of the party's voluntary wing (Voluntary Party).

History[edit]

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.[4] 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.

Purpose[edit]

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
Conservative Women's Organisation
National Chairman
Assumed office
8 March 2016
Incumbent Julie Iles
Preceded by Niki Molnar
Website Official webpage

Organisation[edit]

National Executive[edit]

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

National Officers[edit]

The National Officers for 2017/2018[5] are:

Position Name Since
National President Niki Molnar MBE 2016
National Chairman Julie Iles 2016
National Deputy Chairman Fleur Butler 2018
National Deputy Chairman Alexia Roe 2016
National Deputy Chairman Amanda Solloway 2018

Regions[edit]

  • East Midlands
  • Eastern
  • London
  • North East
  • North West
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland (as Scottish Women's Conservative Committee)
  • South West
  • Southern
  • Wales
  • West Midlands
  • Yorkshire

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[edit]

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 was ratified by the CWO AGM on 29 March 2014 and ratified by the Party Board on 28 April 2014.

Elections[edit]

National and Regional elections take place at Annual General Meetings before 30 April each year.

Policy and research[edit]

CWO Forums[edit]

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.[6]

Subjects covered in the last 5 years[7] include:

  • Human Trafficking [8]
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Policing
  • 'Big Brother' Syndrome
  • Animal Welfare
  • Drugs
  • Immigration/Asylum
  • Environment
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Food Labelling
  • Housing/Planning
  • Mental Health
  • Pensions
  • Europe
  • Forced Marriages
  • Prostitution
  • Gang Culture
  • Iraq & Afghanistan
  • Cyber Bullying
  • Local Government
  • Taxation
  • Stalking
  • Rural Poverty

CWO Development[edit]

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.[9] 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.

Conferences[edit]

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[10][edit]

Years Chair
1919-1921 Lady Fitzalan [Lady Edmund Talbot, formerly Lady Mary Bertie]
1921-1925 Mrs W. Bridgeman [later, Dame Caroline Bridgeman and Viscountess Bridgeman]
1925-1928 Viscountess Elveden
1928-1932 Countess of Iveagh
1933-1935 Mrs Regina Evans
1935-1938 Lady Hillingdon
1938-1942 Mrs Marian Whitehead
1942-1945 Mrs Hornyold-Strickland
1945-1948 Dame Lucille Sayers [Elsewhere listed as Mrs Lorne Sayers]
1948-1951 Mrs Anne Warde
1951-1954 Evelyn Emmet, Baroness Emmet of Amberley [Otherwise described as Mrs TA Emmet]
1954-1957 The Baroness Elliot of Harwood [otherwise described as Mrs Walter Elliot, or Katharine Elliot]
1957-1960 Lady Mary Graham
1960-1963 Dame Margaret Shepherd [Peggy]
1963-1966 Mrs CJA Doughty [later, Dame Adelaide Doughty]
1966-1969 Dame Unity Lister
1969-1972 Dame Margot Smith [Otherwise described as Mrs Roy Smith]
1972-1975 Dame Shelagh Roberts
1975-1978 Dame Ann Springman [listed as Margaret Springham in the Times]
1978-1981 Dame Pamela Hunter [Otherwise described as Mrs Gordon Hunter]
1981-1984 Dame Joan Seccombe/The Baroness Seccombe DBE
1984-1987 Dame Margaret Fry
1987-1990 Dame Wendy Mitchell
1990-1993 Mrs Hazel Byford, The Baroness Byford DBE
1993-1996 Dame Joyce Annelay/The Rt Hon Baroness Anelay of St Johns DBE
1996-1999 Mrs Caroline Abel-Smith OBE
1999-2002 Mrs Marney Swan OBE
2002-2005 Mrs Pamela Parker
2005-2008 Lady Fiona Hodgson/The Baroness Hodgson of Abinger CBE
2008-2011 Mrs Pauline Lucas MBE
2011-2012 Ms Niki Molnar MBE
Mar-Nov 2012 Mrs Katy Bourne
2013-2016 Ms Niki Molnar MBE
2016- Mrs Julie Iles

References[edit]

  1. ^ "European Union of Women (UK)". 
  2. ^ "UN Women". 
  3. ^ "End of the blue rinse". The Daily Telegraph. 21 April 2006. 
  4. ^ "Conservative Party Archive". www.bodley.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-20. 
  5. ^ "CWO National Officers 2018/19". 
  6. ^ "CWO Forums". 
  7. ^ "CWO Forums". 
  8. ^ "CWO Forum - Human Trafficking". ACT London Forum. 
  9. ^ "CWO Development". 
  10. ^ "CWO Chairmen". 
Party political offices
Preceded by
Niki Molnar MBE, Chairman
Julie Iles, Chairman
2016 – present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Pauline Lucas MBE, President
Niki Molnar MBE, President
2016 – present
Incumbent