Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The many colours of the WI prism

From renewable energy one week to restored lives the next; just watch the many colours in the prism of life that is thrown into relief within the WI.

In this entry, I am returning to the issue of the proposed reform of the legal aid system. As regular readers will be aware, the reforms, if accepted, will make a drastic and wholly negative difference to the lives of those women who need access to legal help when they become victims of domestic violence.

Having expressed on our concerns to both Houses of Parliament, I was asked to contribute to a Bar Debate – “Broken Britain, broken families; what next?,” that was chaired by Mr Peter Lodder QC alongside Dr Maggie Atkinson, The Children's Commissioner; Mr Stephen Cobb QC, Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association; and Mr John Coughlan, member of the Family Law Justice Review Panel. I discussed what the WI had learned throughout its campaign, and referred to the WI’s latest report on legal aid in relation to domestic violence. The question was what would be the result of the reforms going through? The answer was simple: more deaths through domestic violence. I’m sure the audience of judges, barristers, lawyers and other interested parties were listening.

But moving on, what do you know about the WI? Indeed, what does the general public really know of the WI? Within the WI, we discuss this endlessly and during the past two weeks we have spoken particularly about perception of the WI in society. It isn’t easy to exactly explain what the WI because there are so many facets to the organisation. The WI prism shows up cookery, craft, campaigning, camaraderie, not to mention opening new vistas of learning and understanding. I could go on and on, but what I do want to say is that the WI is everything you want it to be, the WI is what you make of it and the WI has ever been here to inspire you. And it does inspire. Whether it is holding in your hand the beautiful shawl you have created, tasting the results of a dish you have made in a cookery class or seeing the face of someone whose life has changed for the better after you were part of a national or local campaign – these are all inspirational experiences – and for very nearly 100 years, this inspiration has passed from woman to woman into the hearts of communities.

The WI Inspiring Women. That's how women can change the world, and WI membership can give the journey of a lifetime to every woman.