OPINION

PATRICE WELLESLEY-COLE REVEALS WHAT THE GWI DOES FOR WOMEN

 

 

Celebrating our 105th anniversary on July 11, 2024, I am honoured to lead an organisation dedicated to empowering women through education and lifelong learning. 

Graduate Women International (GWI) was founded in London after the First World War by educators Rose Sidgwick, Caroline Spurgeon, and Virginia Gildersleeve and promotes friendship, understanding and advocacy for women’s rights globally.

The organisation now has some 50 women’s graduate affiliates worldwide, including the British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG). 

GWI continues to thrive ensuring our mission is effectively carried out. 

I am supported in this effort by Stacy Dry Lara (USA), executive director based in Geneva, treasurer, Sudha Srivastava (England) and five vice presidents: Ujwala Shinde (Legal and Governance, India), Mildred Asmah (Projects, Ghana), Dr Meere Bondre (Membership, India), Dr Shirley Gillett (Education, New Zealand) and Shaila Rao Mistry (Advocacy, USA).

Marie Stopes, a pioneer of family planning and social reformer, was a GWI member for many years through her BFWG subscription. From 1909 to 1916 she lived in Well Walk, Belsize Park, where the Heath and Hampstead Society placed a commemorative plaque.

With a diverse membership of 9,000 across continents, our work towards equality includes our annual international advocacy strategy through things like press releases, social media campaigns, webinars and toolkits covering critical topics that are barriers to education.

Programmes like Teachers for Rural Futures in Uganda, Bina Roy Partners in Development and the Hegg Hoffet Fund for displaced women exemplify our impact. 

 

Additionally, our Young Member Network, led by YMN President and GWI Treasurer Sudha Srivastava, continues to grow.

In 2023, I addressed the UN Human Rights Council virtually on digital education. More recently, I made two presentations at the Commission on the Status of Women with side events on menopause, attended by three British MPs, and on using technology to accelerate equality and prevent poverty.

The British Federation’s Charity Funds for Women Graduates is one of Britain’s largest providers of postgraduate scholarships. 

I proudly served as the British Federation’s national president from 2017-2020 and was also a trustee of the charity. 

As the current Hampstead Rotary President, I have featured in the Ham&High regarding Hampstead Heath and Age UK Camden’s befriending service.

Last year, alongside fellow accessibility campaigners Loos for Haringey, I addressed Haringey Council, gained councillor backing and was photographed with the deputation in the paper. 

  • Please consider supporting GWI: graduatewomen.org/pay/

Patrice Wellesley-Cole is the president (2023-2025) of Graduate Women International (GWI), formerly the International Federation of University Women (IFUW).