President for 1910, the Lady Laura Ridding
Section of a Vast International Organisation
2. To promote the social, civil, moral, and religious welfare of women.
4. To federate women's organisations and to encourage and assist the formation of local councils and unions of women.
The Union is organised in the interest of no one policy, and has no power over the organisations which constitute it; federated societies incur no responsibility on account of any action taken either by the council of the Union or by any other federated society.
The N.u.w.w. has forty-two branches in different parts of England and Scotland, the main object of the branches being to form a common centre for all women engaged in or interested in social, educational, philanthropic or religious work, and to promote sympathy and co-operation.
All societies working for the moral, mental, or physical well-being of women and children are invited to become affiliated to the nearest branch of the N.u.w.w. and to appoint representatives to serve on the local committee. In this way the various societies in a town are brought into touch with each other. This prevents overlapping both in religious and philanthropic work and also makes it possible for the N.u.w.w. to ascertain in what particular direction special help is needed which is not being given.
The local branch then endeavours to supply the deficiency. One branch, for instance, found that there was no health society in its town, and at once took steps to form one. Another that there was no after-care of feeble-minded children on leaving school, and a branch of the National Association for the Feeble-minded was quickly called into being. Every branch could probably give instances of overlapping prevented, co-operation brought about, and urgent needs supplied.
The Lady Laura Ridding Photo, Ernest H. Mills
The work of the centre, under its executive committee, is chiefly carried on by means of sectional committees dealing with nearly all departments of women's work. The members of these committees consist of experts in the subjects dealt with and representatives of local branches. By this means the branches are kept in constant touch with the centre, receive from it expert information, and forward various local particulars which are invaluable to the committee when considering all sides of a subject.
The Legislation Committee studies all bills brought before Parliament affecting women and children, and on several occasions has been able to bring forward evidence which has led to the introduction of a new clause or the suppression of one detrimental to the persons for whose benefit the bill was drafted.
During 1909 this committee invited the branches to take part in an inquiry into the work of married women which the Women's Industrial Council was conducting.
They also appointed representatives to serve - (1) on a deputation to the London County Council, to urge the need for the registration of theatrical agencies; (2) on a deputation to the President of the Local Government Board and the Home Secretary, to urge the need for protecting employees at exhibitions; (3) on the joint committee to assist the Half-time Council in London to raise the minimum school age up to fourteen
World Of Women and to abolish all exemptions below that age, etc.
The Girls' Club Committee consists chiefly of club leaders from various parts of London and the provinces. They are able to give each other most valuable information and assistance on club management. Inquiries come to the hon. secretary from all parts of England as to every department of club work.
A committee for promoting the Provision of Rest-rooms for women and girl employees in Exhibitions in connection with one of the London exhibitions was formed in 1908 by representatives of various societies working for the welfare of girls. It proved a most inestimable boon, for, before the committee was formed and the rest-room opened, the girls had no place where they could rest during their times off, no free dressing-room accommodation, and the greater number of them were unable to obtain any food except at exhibition prices, which for many, owing to the low wages they received, were prohibitive.
Early in 1909 the N.u.w.w. was asked to take over the work and to extend it to other exhibitions as necessity arose. This it was decided to do.
A Preventive and Rescue Committee nas been formed, which deals very efficiently with a difficult question. It is composed of representatives of various societies dealing with different branches of the work.
The Education Committee watches over all matters connected with education, and has among its members representatives of important educational organisations, such as the National Union of Teachers, the Teachers' Guild of Great Britain and Ireland, the Association of Headmistresses, the Association of Teachers of Domestic Science, the Parents' National Educational Union, University. Colleges, etc.
The Public Health Committee is one of the most recent of the committees formed, and will probably prove invaluable both in collecting and spreading information concerning public health. An epitome of the work done in Ireland and also by the York Health and Housing Association with regard to the care of phthisical patients has been sent to all branch representatives, asking them to co-operate with their municipal authorities in adopting those methods which they consider most suitable in their locality for arresting the progress of this disease.
A Public Service Committee has been formed:
1. To study the administration of new Acts.
2. To bring to light defects in Acts affecting social welfare or in the administration of those Acts.
3. To bring to the notice of the sectional committees any legislative matter which may affect their work.
While the N.u.w.w. is all-embracing in Great Britain, it is itself but a part of a greater whole, "The International Council of Women," which is a federation of national councils or unions of women formed in various countries for the promotion of unity and mutual understanding between all associations of women working for the common welfare of the community. The international council was organised in 1888, and has for its motto the Golden Rule.
This committee keeps in touch with the work of women in other countries, and supplies information to other national councils and to women visiting England from abroad.
The Women's India Study Association is a sectional committee of the N.u.w.w., and was established to promote sympathetic understanding between British and Indian women.
Objects - (1) To serve as a bureau of information with regard to all work done by and for women in India; (2) To draw up courses of study and suggest books to those desirous of obtaining more information; and (3) to arrange lectures on matters connected with the aims of the association. It also arranges correspondence classes for the study of Indian languages, history, and literature. It aims especially at arousing interest on the part of English women who are looking forward to residence in India.
All women interested in religious, philanthropic and educational work are welcome as members of the N.u.w.w.
Subscribers of 5s. a year to the centre receive invitations to meetings in London and copies of the "Occasional Paper," which is issued three or four times a year, and gives information as to the work done by the sectional committees and branches.
Subscribers of 10s. receive in addition a copy of the N.u.w.w. handbook each year, containing full information of the work of the union. Subscriptions to local branches vary, but are not usually more than half-a-crown a year.
Among the societies of national importance, whose representatives serve on the Council of Women of Great Britain and Ireland (the governing body of the N.u.w.w.) are the Girls' Friendly Society, the Young Women's Christian Association, the Women's Local Government Society, the Charity Organisation Society, the Catholic Women's League, the Union of Jewish Women, etc. .
Further information can be obtained from the Secretary, N.u.w.w., Parliament Man-sions, Victoria Street, S.w.