Conservative Women's Organisation

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Conservative Women's Organisation
Full name Conservative Women's Organisation
Short name CWO
Changes to name 1885 (Grand Ladies Council)
1908 (Central Women's Advisory Committee)
1951 (Women's National Advisory Committee)
1982 (Conservative National Women's Committee)
2007 (Conservative Women's Organisation)
President Niki Molnar
Chairman Julie Iles
Deputy Sophie Stratton
Deputy Alexia Roe
Deputy Barbara Postles
Founded 1919
Headquarters Conservative Campaign HQ
4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ, England
Groups CWO Forums
CWO Development
Ideology Conservatism
Political position Centre-right
National affiliation Conservative Party
European affiliation European Union of Women[1]
International affiliation UN Women[2]

Conservative Women's Organisation, abbreviated to CWO, represents the women members of the Conservative Party in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In the latter part of the 20th Century, the organisation was known as the Blue Rinse Brigade.

The Scottish Conservative Women's Council is the autonomous sister organisation of the CWO in Scotland. The Chairman of the British Section of the European Union of Women also sits on the CWO National Executive.

As with all political parties, membership has declined and the CWO had about 5,000 active members in 2012 (although all the women members of the party are actually members). Attendance at the CWO Annual Conference has been between 300-750 in the past five years.


The National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations' Central Women's Advisory Committee (CWAC) was formed in 1908 and officially 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.[3] It changed to its current title in April 2007.

In the latter half of the 20th century, 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 in London.


According to its website, the CWO is[4]

  • The grassroots network that provides support and focus for women in the Conservative Party
  • Reaching out to women in all parts of the community
  • Campaigning on issues of particular concern to women both nationally and internationally
  • Encouraging women to be politically active and to get elected at all levels
  • Ensuring that the women's perspective is taken into account because women see things differently from men
  • Helping the Conservative Party capture the women's vote
Conservative Women's Organisation
Assumed office
8 March 2016
Incumbent Julie Iles
Preceded by Niki Molnar
Website [1]


National Executive

The CWO Executive Committee has responsibility for the overall management of the organisation and is composed of:

  • CWO Officers (President, Chairman, 3 Deputy Chairmen, Treasurer and Deputy Chairman Europe)
  • European Union of Women (EUW) British Section Officers
  • The 12 Regional Chairmen plus 2 Additional Executive Members (AEMs) per region
  • Up to 8 Co-options
  • Up to 8 Additional Members

National Officers

The National Officers for 2016/2017 are:

  • National Chairman - Julie Iles (since 2016)
  • National President - Niki Molnar (since 2016)
  • Deputy Chairman - Sophie Stratton (since 2016)
  • Deputy Chairman - Alexia Roe (since 2016)
  • Deputy Chairman - Barbara Postles (since 2016)


  • East Midlands
  • Eastern
  • London
  • North East
  • North West
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland (as Scottish Women's Conservative Committee)
  • South West
  • Southern
  • Wales
  • West Midlands
  • Yorkshire

Each of the 12 regions are broken into Areas (roughly by county), with each having their own Area Chairman with responsibility to the Regional Chairmen. An affiliated (or recognised) Conservative Association women's group, known as Association CWOs or Conservative Women's Constituency Committees (CWCCs).

Affiliation and constitution

The organisation is officially affiliated to the Conservative Party. Its last constitution was ratified by the CWO AGM in March 2007 and ratified by the Party Board on April 7, 2007. A revised constitution was ratified by the CWO AGM on 29 March 2014 and ratified by the Party Board on 28 April 2014.


National and Regional elections take place at Annual General Meetings usually before 30 April each year.

Policy and research

CWO Forums

Although the organisation primarily represents the views of the women grassroots members of the Conservative Party, it is also involved in policy and research, which particularly affect women in the UK. It does this primarily through its CWO Forums - panel based discussion meetings that are generally held in the Palace of Westminster and which are open to men and women, and to people from all political persuasions.[5]

Subjects covered in the last 5 years[6] include:

  • Human Trafficking [7]
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Policing
  • 'Big Brother' Syndrome
  • Animal Welfare
  • Drugs
  • Immigration/Asylum
  • Environment
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Food Labelling
  • Housing/Planning
  • Mental Health
  • Pensions
  • Europe
  • Forced Marriages
  • Prostitution
  • Gang Culture
  • Iraq & Afghanistan
  • Cyber Bullying
  • Local Government
  • Taxation
  • Stalking
  • Rural Poverty

CWO Development

Set up by the then Chairman, Pauline Lucas, in 2010, the development programme trains and mentors women to stand for public office at all levels.[8] Workshops are usually held at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters in London but sponsored Be a Councillor days are held around the UK. Workshops cover communication, interviews, applications, campaigns and finance, together with other "transferable skills". In July 2013, the CWO announced a new workshop as an introduction for women to apply for Public Appointments and Non-Executive Director roles.


The first recorded Conservative Women's Conference was in 1921 and holding an annual conference is part of its constitution. For several decades, the women's organisation's annual conference was regularly held in the Royal Albert Hall.

National CWO Chairmen

Records are unavailable before 1945


  1. "European Union of Women (UK)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "UN Women".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "CWO Forums".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Policy & Research by the CWO in the past 5 years".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "CWO Forum - Human Trafficking". ACT London Forum.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "CWO Development".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Party political offices
Preceded by
Niki Molnar, Chairman
Julie Iles, Chairman
2016 – present