History of the CWO

A typical early women's meeting


The CWO celebrated its 90th anniversay in 2009, making us the oldest women's political organisation in the world.

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.

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), however, they still only represent 16% of the party.

We remain dedicated to enabling more women to become elected as Members of Parliament.

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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