Co-operative Women’s Guild

Founded in 1883, the Co-operative Women’s Guild of England and Wales and in 1892 in Scotland, is one of the oldest women’s organisations in existence. Its objectives were to encourage and educate women to play a full part in the Co-operative Movement and in local, national and international affairs. It strives, through a wide variety of educational, social, cultural and recreational activities, to enable each of its members to live a full, interesting and useful life.

At the present moment, the Guild has 45 Branches in England and Wales. Each plans its own programme around the purpose and commitments of the Guild and elects its own officers. Each year, most Branches raise money for a nationally agreed charitable project, as well as supporting local causes.

Branches are encouraged to work in close contact with local Co-operative Societies.

Policy is determined by an Annual Congress to which each Branch is entitled to send one delegate, who has one vote. District and Regional Councils and the National Executive Committee are elected annually by the Branches.

In the past, the Guild has had strong ties with women in many countries through the Women’s Committee of the International Co-operative Alliance and, in association with other Co-operative organisations; played an active part in a variety of projects in developing countries.

The Guild’s purpose

The Guild endeavours to improve the status of women and campaigns to have a better quality of life for all.

The Guild’s commitments

The Guild is committed to:

  • working for the improvement of the status of women;
  • serving all Guildswomen by providing social, cultural and recreational activities;
  • using its best endeavours to ensure that all people have equal opportunities;
  • supporting Co-operative Societies and the wider co-operative movement;
  • working for the establishment of world peace;
  • remaining as a not-for-profit organisation.

The Structure of the Guild


  • Branches are responsible for their own programme of activities in accordance with the policy and rules of the Guild as agreed by Congress.
  • The officials are democratically elected by the Branch members. Branches are closely linked with local Co-operative Societies, from whom, most receive considerable help.
  • Branches elect their Regional Representatives and National Executive Committee member.
  • Branch affiliation fees are payable yearly to the Co-operative Women’s Guild Head Office.


  • Districts are geographical units designed to co-ordinate the work of the Branches within a given area. Each Branch can have two representatives on the District Council. Larger Districts have an Executive Committee elected by and from the Council. Districts liaise with their Regions through a Regional Representative.
  • The District Secretary is elected directly by the Branches. The other officials are elected by the District Council.


  • The country is currently divided into 9 Regions, each with a Regional representatives Committee elected directly by Branches within the Region.
  • The Regional Representative is elected by the Branches.
  • The National Executive Committee Member is the Chair of the Region. The Region is responsible for liaison with Districts through the appointment of Branch Guildswomen to serve specific Districts.
  • National Individual Members’ Branch
  • Generally, due to time constraints, Individual Members do not attend Branch meetings.
  • A yearly subscription fee is paid for which a copy of the bi-monthly Newsletter, Annual Report and any other relevant matter are received.
  • The National Individual Members’ Branch has the same voting power as the local Guild Branches and can elect one of its members to the National Executive Committee and also appoint one of its members to be a delegate to the Annual Congress.
  • Individual Members can also attend Annual Congress as visitors, at their own expense.
  • Contact details of all Individual Members are kept by the General Secretary at Head Office.

National Executive Committee

  • Each Region and the Individual Members Branch can have one representative on the National Executive Committee.
  • The National Executive Committee is responsible for the work of the Guild between Congresses. It must carry out policy as agreed by Congress.
  • It has power to set up sub-committees such as the Rules Review Committee; co-opt a Guildswoman to the NEC should a Region not have nominated any one
  • National Executive Committee members may be requested to represent the Guild on other national women’s bodies.
  • It elects, from amongst itself, the National President and National Vice-President.

Annual Congress

  • The Annual Congress is the policy making body. Each Branch which has met all financial commitments is entitled to send one delegate who has one vote. No-one else has a vote.
  • Motions and Amendments to Rules may be submitted by Branches, including the National Individuals Branch and the National Executive Committee. Once accepted, they are binding on all Branches, whether represented at Congress or not.
  • Mrs. Ben Jones Guild Convalescent Fund
  • The Mrs. Ben Guild Convalescent Fund is a convalescent fund set up in memory of Mrs. Ben Jones, a former National President, for the benefit of Guild members.
  • The Fund Committee consists of four Trustees and is served by a Financial Secretary appointed by the National Executive Committee.
  • The Fund, which is a registered charity, depends upon donations from the National Executive Committee.

Head Office – General Secretary/Membership Officer

  • The Guild’s national administrative work; production of the bi-monthly Newsletter, under the direction of the Editor of the Newsletter; production of Guild leaflets and pamphlets, is undertaken at Guild Head Office by the General Secretary, and overseen by the National Executive Committee.
  • The General Secretary is also the Guild’s Membership Officer; she may, if invited, visit Guildswomen at their Regional meetings and will represent the Guild at various national Co-operative events around the country.

 Structure of the Guild

CWG Structure diagram

Click here for a printable PDF version of the CWG Structure pamphlet 2013.

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