Our History

From 1895 to present day

Home 5 Who we are 5 Our history

The National Council of Women of Great Britain (NCWGB, often shortened to NCW) was founded in 1895 (originally called the National Union of Women’s Workers). We formed to provide a forum where women could discuss and consider the social and political issues of the day, and work together towards a world where it is no disadvantage to be born a girl.

NCWGB is an internationally-recognised organisation. We are one of several National Councils of Women affiliated to the International Council of Women (ICW). We have special consultative status at the UN (ECOSOC status) and send delegates to international conferences such as the United Nations’ Annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York.
Author Daphne Glick explores our rich and long history in her book -‘The National Council of Women of Great Britain: The First One Hundred Years’.

Some key dates


The National Council of Women of Great Britain is founded in response to the unsatisfactory working conditions faced by many women at the time. Known as the National Union of Women Workers, the organisation quickly develops into a nationwide network of small groups, and within two years becomes associated with the International Council of Women (ICW). We work in the UK and internationally on issues of concern to women.


The Union sets up a number of Special Committees to focus on particular issues. One of the best known is the Women Patrol Committee (later known as the Women’s Police Committee) – a forerunner of the Women’s Police. Around the same time, we begin our campaign for ‘Equal pay for Equal work’ over concerns around the position of women in the armed forces. In 1918, we become known as the National Council of Women of Great Britain.


In 1951, the NCW becomes an incorporated body governed by a Memorandum and Articles of Association. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, we actively work to remove discrimination against women in all areas and in encouraging women to play a full role in society. This work continues today.

The NCW works closely with the European Network of ICW, and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. In 1969, we become a founder member of the Women’s National Commission.


The United Nations awards us special consultative status, granting us a global platform to share our members’ views.


Since 2013, we have been connecting with schools, colleges and universities to encourage young women to get involved in our work. We continue to respond to changes in society and, in recent years, have focused on issues ranging from consumer awareness to developments and challenges in science and health.

Today, we continue to provide a forum for debate and an opportunity for women to voice their concerns, make recommendations to Government and other decision-making agencies. We are a valuable source of information for members and provide a key support network for women across the UK.

“If you’re passionate about empowering women and making female voices present – then the National Council of Women can provide you with a platform to do this.”

Neha, 17

Become a member

Join a network of people who care about the lives of all women.

NCW in action

Our latest resolutions tackle overseas poverty, climate change, and innovation.