The Conservative Women's Organisation

The Conservative Women’s Organisation was founded in 1919, although its roots go back to 1885 and the Primrose League. It continues to work for the women members of the Conservative Party and to represent their views to the Party Leader, Chairman and MPs.

About the CWO

The CWO works with many NGOs, giving a voice to smaller campaigns and publicising national and international ones. The CWO networks with businesses (CWO Enterprise), puts forward policy (CWO Forums) and works with women and men interested in standing for public office (CWO Development). The CWO celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2009, making it the oldest women's political organisation in the world.

The CWO offers a focus and support for all women whose beliefs and values are in sympathy with today’s modern Conservative Party. They can establish contact, learn about Conservative viewpoints and contribute to the discussion about the issues that will influence future Conservative policy.

The CWO provides training, mentoring and speaking opportunities. They encourage and support women who wish to become involved at all levels of public life or in their local communities: From school governors to public appointments, councillors to MPs. The CWO is there to help support all Conservative candidates through CWO Development, both men and women can join our courses.

The history of the CWO

The National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations' Central Women's Advisory Committee (CWAC) was 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.

The first recorded Conservative Women's Conference was in 1921.

The CWO is an affiliated organisation of the Conservative Party. If you a member of the Conservative Party, then you can be member of the Conservative Women’s Organisation irrespective of your gender, as long as you agree to our aims. Our members form a countrywide network of people of all ages and backgrounds, working together in a wide range of activities within the voluntary party.

By the early 1990’s 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.

It should not be forgotten that the first woman MP in the House of Commons was a Conservative as well as the first woman Prime Minister in the UK.

Women on the Conservative benches in the House of Commons still remain under-represented – the 2005 election returned only 17 women MPs – 9% of the Parliamentary Party. The 2010 election improved this by returning a 250% increase in women MPs on the Conservative benches (49), and in 2015, it increased by a further 39% to 68 Conservative women MPs but still only 21% of the parliamentary party.

The CWO remains dedicated to enabling more women to become elected as Members of Parliament and to public office at all levels.

The CWO pays tribute to all those women who, over the years, have played such an enormous part in securing the right to vote, campaigning for women’s rights and contributing to and shaping the present day Conservative Party.

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Pictured above:

Margret Thatcher - The UK's First Female Prime Minister

Theresa May - The UK's Second Female Prime Minister

Baroness Warsi - The UK's First Female Asian Cabinet Member