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Women's InstituteHome » Themes » Women's Institute
The first Women’s Institute meeting in Britain was held at Llanfairpwll in Anglesey in September 1915. The WI movement first originated in Canada and a Canadian representative spoke at a conference held at Bangor in 1915. Her talk inspired those present to become more involved in the war effort and thus the WI came to the United Kingdom. The initial aim of the movement was to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in food production during the First World War.
Closely associated with agriculture and rural communities from the outset, the WI developed over the course of the twentieth century to become involved with numerous projects and its appeal expanded to urban areas.
The movement grew in popularity in Wales but, in the mid 1960s, members of in Gwynedd, unhappy with its predominantly English character, broke away and formed Merched y Wawr – a Welsh-language organisation. In spite of this challenge, the WI maintained its membership and had some 600 branches in Wales at the turn of the 21st century.