More jam, less Jerusalem: the new women's social groups
Silver Linings

Silver Linings

Carolyn Devadawson, Senior PR Officer for National Federation of the Women’s Institute (NFWI) seems to think so. “Since the economy went bad more people have wanted to network within their neighbourhoods. Before we tended to stick to our own networks and people didn’t know who their neighbours were.”

The WI ( is the largest women’s organisation in the UK with 205,000 members and 6,400 regional groups. In the last couple of years not only has membership being rising but Carolyn has noticed a clear rise in younger girls and women joining. “Younger women can learn from the older women in these troubled times.”

In response to the younger members the WI has been keen to shed their image of being a network of cake baking and jam making Stepford Wives. Recent campaigns have included the No More Violence Against Women, SOS for HoneyBees and Women Reaching Women. As regional membership continues to grow it seems that women want to make improvements to their lives and for others and it’s the support of the females around making it possible.

Yet ironically it is those traditional crafts that are most en-vogue. Meet ups in fairy cakes (now mostly called cupcakes thanks to Carrie and crew), afternoon tea, cake baking and embroidery sell out quick out and often it’s professional women rushing from the office to learn. But are we entering a new age of austerity or simply of innovative entrepreneurs?

Image:© / Jupiterimages

Women in Focus Editor
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