About SWI

The first Women’s Institute was formed in Scotland in Longniddry, East Lothian in 1917. Since then we have grown to approximately 16,070 members across Scotland including the most rural of Islands to the highly populated vibrant cities.

With our Headquarters in Edinburgh, 32 Federations throughout Scotland and 717 Institutes overall, we are proud to bring a broad mix of women together to connect, share, teach and meet.

It is our aim to increase our membership to continue the legacy created nearly 100 years ago. Be part of the SWI and share your passions.

Explore the history of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute with our Timeline below >   

Discover our values and learn about our ethos below >  

Share in our vision and help form the future of the SWI >

From Our Chairman

THIS MONTH has been a mixture of personal and SWI events. My husband and I have attended two conferences – our youngest son and his family joined us for one of these in Wales. It was lovely to have some time with our two youngest grandchildren, and the weather was beautiful in the superb surroundings of the Celtic Manor resort.

I had a very enjoyable evening at a fashion show in my own Federation held in Auchterarder. The second half of the evening was entertainment by a magician. These people are so clever and this one was no exception. The tricks were amazing!

Blairgowrie group held its Autumn meeting where we enjoyed singing from Rural Blend. This group developed after entering one of the National Small Singing Group competitions and I am a great fan of their music. You can read about how other SWI members have been inspired to start singing – along with some tips from professionals – in this edition.

The Quiz and Matter of Opinion competition held in Stonehaven, and hosted by Kincardineshire Federation was a very enjoyable day. Although the audience was small, everyone agreed it had been a very entertaining event.

All in the same week, I had the pleasure of attending Kilmanny and Balmerino centenary parties, both in Fife Federation, where I met many members for the first time and enjoyed fantastic hospitality and entertainment.

Nearer to home I was a guest at Crook of Devon’s 90th birthday – another superb evening among many friends and fellow members. Rural Blend entertained again but this time handed out musical instruments which we were invited to play so that we could all be part of the fun!

The day after these events I flew off to Shetland for three days where I was well looked after by Joan Hutchison and her ladies. The first evening Joan had organised a get together so that I could meet as many of her members as possible. I was amazed to find out that some of these ladies had to catch two ferries before driving on to the meeting place - that is commitment.

The following day I was given a tour of part of Shetland seeing some beautiful scenery and had a glimpse of a new school in Lerwick which we are hoping may be a future venue for summer school. The main reason for visiting Shetland was to officially open their Centenary Exhibition. What a lovely exhibition it was. I was particularly interested in a Charity Wall they had created giving information of all that they had supported over the years.

We were entertained by four young lady fiddlers who are part of a group called Hjaltabonhoga – old Norse for “Shetland my spiritual home.” I thoroughly enjoyed meeting many of our Shetland members and shared great fun and friendship – one young lady apologised for not coming to the event the previous evening – her Institute had been playing bingo! At least she got her priorities right. We shared a laugh about the fact that I had come all that way to meet her and she chose to play bingo!

On my return home it was party time again, this time in my own Federation at Auchterarder’s 100th birthday. Another very enjoyable occasion.

During October Anne Kerr and Heather McDougall represented SWI promoting our Centenary Cookery Book at the Portobello Book Festival which was also attended by some members from Leith Institute.

We were represented at the Women of the World event held in Perth Concert Hall where Perth & Kinross and Garnethill members organised a promotional stand. Anne Kerr and I attended the Women in Agriculture event held at Gogarburn, Edinburgh at the beginning of November. These events were very worthwhile with many showing interest in all that we do.

Anne, our Communications Convenor, would like to hear of any other events where it may be possible to take stands, and please look out for events in your own Federations where this might be possible.

On the business side of SWI committees continue to meet regularly and all Committee Convenors are preparing for meetings week – a busy time for all. I hope by the time you read this magazine your Christmas preparations are well underway. Whatever you are planning, I wish you all a very happy festive season and health and happiness in 2018.

Important Note

Important Note Regarding Membership Lists or Creation of a Database

There are many excellent reasons why a membership organisation like ours ought to have a comprehensive database of all members – but as many of you will know, we have faced significant resistance to this move in recent years. 

However, we are now asking all those who have refused to help us create a database of members by declining to provide their details to consider this:

  • The SWI is a charity, but it is an un-incorporated charity where the Trustees are personally liable and we have to have an insurance policy in place to protect them. In order to reduce this exposure, it is recommended that we become a Scottish Charitable Incorporation Organisation (SCIO) – which is similar to a Limited Company status. Most charities are now a SCIO and are incorporated but in order to do this and fall in line with our charity peers, we must have a membership list – or in the words of OSCR a register of members.
  • Without a membership list we do not meet the OSCR conditions to become a SCIO.
  • Without a membership list, our 55 Central Councillors who are our Trustees– in effect our Board – are personally liable should the organisation ever find itself in financial difficulty and our insurance policy either does not pay out, or does not pay out a full amount.
  • With this level of personal liability attached to the position, it is unlikely that we can continue to find women willing to become Central Councillors in future.
  • A register of members for an SCIO must contain the following information for each current member:
    • The name of the member
    • The address of the member; and
    • The date of registration as a member of the SCIO.
  • Despite the misinformation disseminated by some members, the SWI will NEVER sell its database of members to any other organisation – and the SWI would comply with all data protection requirements.

We ask all those who have declined to become part of a register of members to reconsider their position and to help us to move our organisation to a position where our individual members who give their time voluntarily as central councillors are not exposed to such financial risk.


Learn about our history from origination in 1917 through to today. It's been a fascinating and eventful journey.

Simply scroll through to explore our history.


Let’s commit and deliver, to ourselves and to all women in Scotland.

  • For 'All women in Scotland'
  • Inclusive and friendship
  • Sharing skills
  • To continually evolve whilst retaining traditional skills and learning new skills

Do our values inspire you? Can you help us share them? Join us >


Let’s attract like-minded souls and be known for our strong characteristics.

  • Fun
  • Friendly
  • Proud
  • Vibrant
  • Supportive
  • Caring

Do our values inspire you? Can you help us share them? Join us >



Let’s be the best we can be, at all times, and as creatively as we can.

  • Influential
  • Inspirational
  • Knowledge
  • Nurturing
  • Friendly
  • Strong believers
  • Inquisitive 
  • Connectivity
  • Innovative
  • International 
  • Socially conscious 
  • Politically aware

Do our values inspire you? Can you help us share them? Join us >


Let’s showcase the benefits of being Women Together and love what we can offer as a collective.

  • Diversity
  • All of Scotland including Highland & Islands
  • Central and localized
  • Value for money
  • Builders of strong friendship
  • Democratic with valued opinions
  • Confidence builders (as groups and individuals)
  • Community driven
  • Traditional and modern

Do our values inspire you? Can you help us share them? Join us >


The vision of the Scottish Women's Institutes is to:

Be known as a vibrant organisation with growing membership, with every woman in Scotland aware of the SWI.

Our Constitution

The SWI have a formal Constitution which all members and prospective members can view here. 
If you have any enquiries about the content please get in touch and our General Secretary will respond.

28th National Conference

A conference with a difference.

We invite you read our Conference Report to get a flavour of the one day event which proved to be an exciting mix of inspirational speakers, motions to help us progress as an organisation and beautiful singing to delight our ears - all centred around the theme of change.

You can read and download our Conference Report here >


Guest Speaker, Stuart Earley, SPPCA    Guest Speaker, Kirsty Mac - Leadership Styled  

SWI Chairman, Christine Hutton    Office Bearers, SWI  

Choir at SWI Conference    Members and Visitors at the SWI Conference

A time of change

Welcome to the Scottish Women's Institute; an organisation dedicated to friendship, learning, skill-sharing and, of course, having fun.