International Alliance of Women

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International Alliance of Women
Alliance Internationale des Femmes
FormationBerlin, 3 June 1904; 118 years ago (1904-06-03)
FounderCarrie Chapman Catt
PurposePolitical advocacy
Over 50 organizations world-wide
Official language
English and French
Acting President
Marion Böker
Secretary-General interim
Camilla Wagner
AffiliationsGeneral Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, Participatory Status with the Council of Europe

The International Alliance of Women (IAW; French: Alliance Internationale des Femmes, AIF) is an international non-governmental organization that works to promote women's rights and gender equality. It was historically the main international organization that campaigned for women's suffrage. IAW stands for an inclusive, intersectional and progressive liberal feminism.

IAW is traditionally the dominant international non-governmental organization within the liberal (or bourgeois) women's movement. The basic principle of IAW is that the full and equal enjoyment of human rights is due to all women and girls. It is one of the oldest, largest and most influential organizations in its field. The organization was founded as International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) in 1904 in Berlin, Germany, by Carrie Chapman Catt, Millicent Fawcett, Susan B. Anthony and other leading feminists from around the world to campaign for women's suffrage.[1] IWSA was headquartered in London, and it was the preeminent international women's suffrage organization. Its emphasis has since shifted to a broad human rights focus. Today it represents over 50 organizations world-wide comprising several hundred thousand members, and has its seat in Geneva.

From 1926, the organization had strong ties to the League of Nations. Since 1947, IAW has had general consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the highest UN status possible for a non-governmental organization, the fourth organization to be granted this status. IAW also has participatory status with the Council of Europe. It has representatives at the UN headquarters in New York, the UN office in Geneva, the UN office in Vienna, UNESCO in Paris, the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. It also has representatives to the Arab League in Cairo and the Gulf Countries Council in Riyadh, and is a member of the European Women's Lobby in Brussels. Its President and Chief Representative to the United Nations is Cheryl Hayles. Its current main UN representative in New York Soon-Young Yoon is also chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, New York and First Vice-President of the Conference of NGOs. IAW's official working languages are English and French. IAW adopted gold as its color, the color associated with the mainstream liberal women's rights movement in the United States since the 19th century.

IAW understands LGBT rights as an integral part of feminism and has expressed concern over "anti-trans voices [that] are becoming ever louder and [that] are threatening feminist solidarity across borders."


IAW's first President Carrie Chapman Catt
Co-founder and Vice President, Dame Millicent Fawcett

The International Alliance of Women, formerly the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, is historically the most important international organization within the bourgeois-liberal women's movement. The decision for the establishment of the organization was taken in Washington in 1902 by suffragists frustrated at the reluctance of the International Council of Women to support women's suffrage.[2] The Alliance was formally constituted during the 2nd conference in Berlin in 1904 as the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA), and was headquartered in London for much of its history.[3] Its founders included Carrie Chapman Catt, Millicent Fawcett, Helene Lange, Susan B. Anthony, Anita Augspurg, Rachel Foster Avery, and Käthe Schirmacher.

Amongst subsequent congresses were those held in Copenhagen (1906), Amsterdam (1908), London (1909), Stockholm (June 1911), and Budapest (1913).[4] The French Union for Women's Suffrage (UFSF), founded in February 1909, was formally recognized by the IWFA congress in London in April 1909 as representing the French suffrage movement.[5] IWSA also started its own monthly journal, the Jus Suffragii. IWSA, influenced by moderate liberal feminist Millicent Fawcett against the militancy of suffragettes in the style of Emmeline Pankhurst, refused membership to the WSPU at their 1906 Copenhagen meeting.[4]

In the late 1920s the organization changed its name to the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship, and in 1946 this was altered to its current name, International Alliance of Women.[6][7] The first Executive Board included Carrie Chapman Catt (President), Anita Augspurg (1st Vice President), Donovan Bolden (2nd Vice President) and Rachel Foster Avery (Secretary).

The organization's first President Carrie Chapman Catt also founded the League of Women Voters in the United States during her presidency.

IAW maintained a clear pro-Western stance throughout the Cold War.[8] The organization's traditional colour, used to symbolize women's rights and women's suffrage, is yellow.[9]

IAW's members in the Nordic countries were also members of the Joint Organization of Nordic Women's Rights Associations.


LGBT rights[edit]

IAW shares the mainstream feminist position on LGBT+ rights and views the struggle for LGBT+ rights as an integral part of feminism. In 2021 IAW and its affiliate, the Icelandic Women's Rights Association (IWRA), organized a CSW forum on the importance of the women's movement countering "anti-trans voices [that] are becoming ever louder and [that] are threatening feminist solidarity across borders," where IAW President Marion Böker discussed her organization's trans-inclusive position.[10] IWRA has stated that "IWRA works for the rights of all women – feminism without trans women is no feminism at all."[11] IAW's Danish affiliate, the Danish Women's Society, has said that it takes homophobia and transphobia very seriously, that "we support all initiatives that promote the rights of gay and transgender people" and that "we see the LGBTQA movement as close allies in the struggle against inequality and we fight together for a society where gender and sexuality do not limit an individual."[12] IAW's Norwegian affiliate, the Norwegian Association for Women's Rights, supports legal protections against discrimination and hate speech on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.[13][14]


  • 1st, Washington, D.C., 1902
  • 2nd, Berlin, 1904
  • 3rd, Copenhagen, 1906
  • 4th, Amsterdam, 1908
  • 5th, London, 1909
  • 6th, Stockholm, 1911
  • 7th, Budapest, 1913
  • 8th, Geneva, 1920
  • 9th, Rome, 1923 [15]
  • 10th, Paris, 1926
  • 11th, Berlin, 1929
  • 12th, Istanbul, 1935
  • 13th, Copenhagen, 1939
  • 14th, Interlaken, 1946
  • 15th, Amsterdam, 1949
  • 16th, Naples, 1952
  • 17th, Colombo, Ceylon, 1955
  • 18th, Athens, 1958
  • 19th, Dublin, 1961
  • 21st, England, 1967
  • 22nd, Konigstein, West Germany, 1970
  • 23rd, New Delhi, 1973


Plate with the symbol and motto of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA). Text: "Jus Suffragii" (the right to vote). Lady Justitita holding a balance in her right hand.

An International Congress is held triennially in the home country of a member organization, and elects the Executive Board. The current President and Chief Representative to the United Nations is Cheryl Hayles. The Executive Board also includes the Secretary-General, the Treasurer and until 20 other members, including two Executive Vice Presidents as well as Vice Presidents for Europe, the Arab countries, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, and South Asia.


  1. Carrie Chapman Catt (USA) 1904–1923
  2. Dame Margery Corbett Ashby (UK) 1923–1946
  3. Hanna Rydh (Sweden) 1946–1952
  4. Ester Graff (Denmark) 1952–1958
  5. Ezlynn Deraniyagala (Sri Lanka) 1958–1964
  6. Begum Anwar Ahmed (Pakistan) 1964–1970
  7. Edith Anrep (Sweden) 1970–1973
  8. Irène de Lipkowski (France) 1973–1979
  9. Olive Bloomer (UK) 1979–1989
  10. Alice Yotopoulos-Marangopoulos (Greece) 1989–1996
  11. Patricia Giles (Australia) 1996–2004
  12. Rosy Weiss (Austria) 2004–2010
  13. Lyda Verstegen (The Netherlands) 2010–2013
  14. Joanna Manganara (Greece) 2013–2020
  15. Cheryl Hayles (Canada) 2020–2021
  16. Marion Böker (Germany) 2021–

Current status[edit]

The IAW represents more than 50 organizations world-wide as well as individual members. The IAW was granted general consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the highest level possible, in 1947,[16] and has participatory status with the Council of Europe.[17] The IAW has permanent representatives in New York, Vienna, Geneva, Paris, Rome, Nairobi and Strasbourg and addresses the European Union through its membership in the European Women’s Lobby[18][19] in Brussels. The IAW's current representative to the UN headquarters, Soon-Young Yoon, is also chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, New York.

The IAW pays particular attention to the universal ratification and implementation without reservation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol. The current IAW Commissions deal with the topics: Justice and Human Rights; Democracy; Peace; Elimination of Violence and Health.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "International Woman Suffrage News (Centenary edition)" (PDF). Women Alliance.
  2. ^ Liddington 1989, p. 37.
  3. ^ Liddington 1989, p. 56.
  4. ^ a b Liddington 1989, p. 63.
  5. ^ Hause 2002.
  6. ^ Women, International Alliance of. "International Alliance of Women Records, 1906-2009 (bulk 1913-1973) Finding Aid". Retrieved 2019-06-07.
  7. ^ Boles & Hoeveler 2004, p. 21.
  8. ^ Francisca de Haan, Rosa Manus (1881–1942), p. 17, BRILL, 2016, ISBN 9789004333185
  9. ^ Lumsden 1997, p. 162.
  10. ^ "Transfeminism and the Women's Movement". Icelandic Women's Rights Association. 15 March 2021. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  11. ^ "IWRA works for the rights of ALL women. Feminism without trans women is no feminism at all". Icelandic Women's Rights Association. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  12. ^ "Køn, sex og seksualitet". Dansk Kvindesamfund. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  13. ^ "Norwegian Association for Women's Rights". Archived from the original on 15 March 2022. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  14. ^ Karin M. Bruzelius (12 November 2018). "Høring – utredning om det strafferettslige diskrimineringsvernet". Norwegian Association for Women's Rights. Archived from the original on 11 August 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  15. ^ Spriggs, W.M. (14 September 1923). "Branch Note - Edinburgh". The Vote. p. 295.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ ECOSOC NGO database
  17. ^ CoE List of participatory NGOs
  18. ^ "The International Alliance of Women (IAW)". November 3, 2017. Archived from the original on 2018-09-23. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  19. ^ EWL member organizations


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]