Our First 100 Years
In 2019, the organisation will turn one hundred years old and while it has changed over the years, what has not changed is the founders’ vision and for this reason the theme chosen for our 100th Anniversary celebrations is “Peace through Education”.
Our founding mothers, Virginia Gildersleeve, Caroline Spurgeon and Rose Sidgwick met in New York in 1918 to discuss the idea of an association of university trained women who might contribute to better understanding between nations and so help to prevent another catastrophe such as World War I which had just ended. A key aim was to encourage women to play a greater part in education and international affairs.
The first conference of the association was held in London in 1920 and eight national associations were affiliated to the new international movement called the International Federation of University Women (IFUW). Ninety years later, with the proliferation of other degree awarding tertiary institutions, the name was changed to Graduate Women International (GWI).
Snippets of GWI / IFUW History from our Members
The name of IFUW, I believe, was not meant as a group of women who graduated from universities. It was meant rather symbolic to open the gate of universities to women lest it should not be exclusively left for men alone. In other words, it was a symbol of gender equality in education.
Historically speaking, it was only in 1904 that Dublin University (Trinity College) in Ireland first allowed women to get enrolled, and it was only in1908 that University of Ireland admitted women on the basis of co-ed program. In England, likewise, it was only after 1910 that universities of Oxford and Cambridge formally admitted women to get enrolled with degrees to be awarded.
Most of our founding sisters of IFUW, including Virginia Gildersleeve, were, therefore, graduates of colleges and not universities.
Bernard College, where Gildersleeve graduated from and served as Dean
later, was a women’s college under the influence of Columbia University. Bernard, according to Gildersleeve, was established as a barter with Columbia, which had refused to admit women for many years into the university, and allowed instead to have a college exclusively for women, Bernard. Situations at the time for admitting women into universities were likely so in other areas throughout the world. (Only exceptions were the State Universities in the US, newly established during the late 19th century, which avowed a co-ed program from their start) --
Reiko Aoki, Past President IFUW.
Did you Know?
Did you know that GWI held its first International Conference outside of Europe from 11 to 16 August 1947 in Toronto, Canada? It was also the first gathering to be held after the end of World War II. Given the difficult circumstances for the delegates travelling from Europe, who were subject to restrictions of currency change and other regulations, a great collective effort of cooperation was put in place. Thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of the Canadian Federation who hosted the event, with the invaluable assistance of the American and British federations, all European delegates could be present at this important meeting.
The Story of the GWI / IFUW Logo
The original IFUW Logo
The lamp logo was designed by members of the Norwegian Federation for the Third Conference in Oslo in 1924. The delegates at that meeting adopted it as the permanent badge of IFUW. The original showed an antique lamp representing the light of learning on a blue background broken with the letters of IFUW. Around the central disc was an interlinked chain symbolising the bonds of friendship linking IFUW members throughout the world. Eventually, the lamp came to be known as the lamp of friendship. It was later modernised and the chain was dropped.
In connection with the conference in Kristiania (Oslo) in 1924 the logo was designed by a well known Norwegian jeweller, David Andersen, as a blue enamel brooch with a lit lamp in gold surrounded by a closed chain symbolising friendship between women and countries.
You may think that a lamp lit by oil, even though accustomed for use in those years, would be too much old fashioned to meet our modern sense living in electronic way of living.
However, considering our mission to promote educational opportunities for girls, women and nowadays for all levels of people, a simple design of lamp showing lights in darkness symbolizes best the hope and guide to find a way to the future through education. In 1919, at the end of World War I, our founding sisters looked the future for women by opening the gate for women into higher education, since in prior to the war, higher education was meant fundamentally for men and not for women. Nevertheless, such a gender gap in education still exists in modern days even on the level of primary education, mainly because of traditional customs, prejudiced ideas against the values of women, and poverty to develop educational foundation.
Those women without an access even to primary education have been left uneducated and thus abandoned at the bottom of society. In the midst of such darkness, education, if accessible, often seems to be a beam to look for the future. I can never forget, for instance, the glittering eyes of little girls at ages of 8 -10 in an agrarian village in India who were proudly learning how to read their local languages by using supposedly a text book which was hand-written on the coarse rough papers. They were also learning mathematics by counting pebbles scattered in the room. Those girls could not afford to attend school during the day, because they had a heavy domestic task while their parents were working outside on the farm. Thus, they were learning instead at night after 20:00 in the small community center run by a voluntary group on the basis of non-formal education.
Likewise, I cannot forget an excitement shown on the face of a woman in a poverty stricken village near Cairo, who could succeed to strike out on the computer several characters meaning her own name, even though without knowing how to spell it in handwriting. Nevertheless, she looked so proud that she could have achieved something for the first time in her life through learning. Education apparently a light for them to go forward. It was not a light coming from a chandelier nor from LED, but from a somber string of beam leading away through darkness. -- Reiko Aoki. A member of JAUW, Past President of IFUW.
"The original lamp logo is not lost or forgotten in Australia. It lives on, through a permanent memorial which is a perfect replica and located at the St Lucia (Brisbane) campus of The University of Queensland. It is of a fountain presented by AFUW to commemorate the 15th conference of IFUW held at The University of Queensland 19-26 August 1965".
On the AFGW website page above there is a photo of the AFGW/IFUW-GWI commemorative fountain (with the GWI lamp as the fountain head). It is located in one of the most central sites on the UQ St.Lucia campus and is still functioning as a fountain after 5 decades.The logo that presides over all AFGW activity, including advocacy, is derived from the logo designed by members of the Norwegian Federation for the Third IFUW Conference in Oslo in 1924 and adopted by delegates as the permanent badge of IFUW and its national associations. The original showed an antique lamp representing the light of learning on a blue background broken with the letters IFUW. Around the central disc was an interlinked chain symbolizing the bonds of friendship linking IFUW members throughout the world. Eventually the lamp came to be known as the lamp of friendship. It was later modernized and the chain was dropped.
The lamp has been adopted by all national, state, territory and branch associations and adapted to better reflect local goals and activities. Some of the State and territory Associations have also incorporated the lamp in their logos. AFGW commissioned the design of a new logo when its name was changed from AFUW to AFGW but retained the lamp. The original lamp logo is not lost or forgotten in Australia. It lives on, through a permanent memorial which is a perfect replica and located at the St Lucia (Brisbane) campus of The University of Queensland. It is of a fountain presented by AFUW to commemorate the 15th conference of IFUW held at The University of Queensland 19-26 August 1965 -- Dalma Jacobs, AFGW CIR.
The Lamp and the Flame
Artist Jenni Mitchell designed Graduate Women Victoria’s logo. The purple lamp with the green flame is based on the IFUW logo designed in 1924, which shows an antique lamp representing the light of learning on a blue background. Around the central disc was an interlinked chain symbolizing the bonds of friendship linking IFUW members throughout the world. The chain was later dropped and the lamp came to be known as the lamp of friendship.
For Graduate Women Victoria, the lamp signifies both meanings: the body of the lamp represents the cooperative efforts of women and the green flame represents the light of knowledge these efforts produce. The flame rises upward, to show the spread of knowledge in the world.
The purple, green and white colours were chosen in honour of the early feminists who campaigned for votes for women in Britain before World War I. They chose purple to represent dignity and that self-reverence and self-respect which renders acquiescence to political subjugation impossible; white for purity in public as well as private life; and green for hope of a new spring tide in women’s history.
When Women Graduates-USA was formed in 2008 the new organization adopted the lamp and the flame as the symbol of its continuity and commitment to IFUW. The colors of the logo are red, white and blue symbolizing the colours of the US flag, the flame representing the red and white stripes. The newsletter that is sent monthly to its membership is called the Flame honoring the friendship forged through membership in IFUW / GWI.
The logo represents South Africa. Like most of the early NFA logos, it too had the chain around it that has since been removed.