National WI Annual Meeting - Liverpool 2022
From Spa Sweethearts delegate Felicity Jennings
Four members of Spa Sweethearts WI attended the National Meeting on June 11th 2022 in Liverpool. As delegate I was representing Starbeck Afternoon WI, Hampsthwaite WI and Killinghall WI and voting for or against the resolution on their behalf.
The meeting took place for the first time as a hybrid, with members able to attend either in person or virtually. This was considered to be a success with many more members able to attend using this model.
After a rousing rendition of Jerusalem and adoption of the standing orders and CIOs the meeting got underway with an address by the National Chair, Ann Jones. Ann was a fabulous charismatic speaker calling the WI ‘the best kept secret…tell everyone’. She talked about the impact of Covid in the last few years and celebrated the amazing work of the WI at local levels.
The Honorary Treasurer, Jeryl Stone, then took us through the WI accounts including details of the Denman sale. Please see the National WI write up for full details.
Margret Broome and Anne Kerr from the Northern Irish and Scottish WIs then gave us an update on matters in their countries, once again emphasising the friendship and support WI’s offer their members.
Kate Garbers then spoke to us via Zoom on the issue of Tackling Modern Slavery. She explained what modern slavery is, signs to spot and the specific issues facing women.
After lunch it was time for the resolution debate.
‘Women and Girls with ASD & ADHD under identified, under diagnosed ,misdiagnosed, under supported’
Angela Long and Rebecca Chauhan spoke passionately for the resolution, stating their own experiences. Both described the harm from the myth that ‘girls can’t be autistic’ and the relief upon finally being diagnosed later in life. They also both stated the impact of being accepted in their WIs for who they are. Professor Francesca Happe also presented the case for the resolution from a medical perspective.
The case against the resolution was put by Professor Ginny Russell focusing on the problems with diagnosis and the difficult idea that if a woman does not conform to ‘normal’ expectations of behaviour there must be something wrong. Instead, she advocated a broader range of acceptance of difference and the important role WIs can play in this.
Several WI members added to the discussion before the vote was cast. The resolution was passed with 96% voting for the resolution.
The guest Speaker was Sarah Clarke OBE, the first female holder of the position of Black Rod. She spoke in an engaging way about her life, especially her career organising events at Wimbledon. She stressed her mother was a lifelong WI member and what an honour it was to be asked to address the WI.
After the closing remarks we sang Land of my Fathers in Welsh and the National Anthem but we couldn’t resist another Jerusalem too. Ann Jones set us a final task “find women who are not in the WI and ask them ‘why not?’”
It was my first time at an annual meeting and I found it so inspirational to be among such amazing women and meet so many members from all around the country in our fantastic organisation. Please see the National WI write up for further details.