Our Story

GWI History


When Dean Virginia Gildersleeve, Professor Caroline Spurgeon and Rose Sidgwick sat together in 1918 and conceived the idea of a worldwide organisation uniting university women, they were convinced that by fostering friendship and understanding, women graduates could help prevent another catastrophe such as the World War that had just ended. Their dream became reality the next year when university women from Great Britain, Canada and the United States met to lay the foundation for the International Federation of University Women (IFUW). Over ninety years later, and under the new title of Graduate Women International (GWI), thousands of women graduates throughout the world share the same principles and vision that inspired those early leaders…


100 years of International Federation of University Women and Graduate Women International 1919-2019

In 1918, during the visit of a British universities mission to the United States, Dean Virginia Gildersleeve of Barnard College, USA, met Professor Caroline Spurgeon of the University of London, and Rose Sidgwick of the University of Birmingham, England. They discussed the need for a worldwide organization uniting university women as one way of preventing another catastrophe such as WWI. United globally, graduate women could work for understanding, friendship and foster peace. This link will guide you through the first 100 years of Inspiring a Vision for the International Federation of University Women, now Graduate Women International. We encourage you to take a thorough look at this fascinating Cavalcade of Women: GWI Pioneers Inspiring a Vision.



GWI Timeline: 1919-2019


In July 2019, GWI commemorated its 100th anniversary during the 33rd Triennial Conference held in Geneva, Switzerland. During 5 days, 365 participants celebrated 100 years of IFUW/GWI with numerous workshops, panel discussions and excursions.



On 27 April 2015, IFUW launched its new name of Graduate Women International (GWI). The contemporary title more accurately reflects the organisation’s inclusive membership, and dynamism across advocacy, projects, fellowships and grants.


1919 – 2014

Strong delegations to the 52nd, 53rd and 54th Sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, including making an oral statement at the 54th Session and three successful GWI seminars as part of the NGO programme.

Participation in the successful UNIFEM campaign Say No to Violence.

GWI’s Education Advocacy Handbook launched at the 2010 Conference in Mexico.

The Hegg Hoffet Fund for Displaced Women Graduates awards to displaced women graduates to facilitate their integration into their new countries is restructured to reflect current practices…



Historical Archives

All historical archives from GWI’s history, spanning 1919-1997, are stored at the Atria Institute (formerly Aletta Institute for Women’s History). Anyone wishing to consult the GWI archives should contact the Institute directly:

Website: www.atria.nl

Telephone: +31(0)20 665 08 20

E-mail: info@atria.nl

The long history of GWI has been captured in images. Click HERE to visit photo archive of GWI.



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