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

43 years ago when I joined Rattray & District SWI, never did I dream I would be national chairman of the organisation I have loved from day one. It is indeed and honour and a privilege and I hope to carry on all the good work that has been done by chairmen before me. 

It has been a wonderful opportunity to work with past national chairman Christine Hutton and the other office bearers and committee convenors in the first half of our centenary year, and I look forward to leading our new team in the second half of this very important and memorable time for our organisation.

My feet have not touched the ground since the 16 May, the date of the last Central Council meeting. My third grandson was born on that day which made it even more memorable.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who sent congratulations both on my appointment, and on the birth of Cameron, whether it be by telephone, cards, or emails. Your kindness and good wishes are very much appreciated.

I am delighted to welcome Anne Kerr from the Ayrshire Federation as senior vice chairman; Anne Howat, also from Ayrshire Federation as junior vice chairman; and the return of Molly Sangster, Inverness & The Islands as honorary treasurer.

The new conveners and vice-convenors of the committees are: Housewives & Handcrafts -  convenor, Cathie McLean, Mull & Tiree Federation and vice convenor, Jessie Meikle, Lanarkshire Federation; Education & International – convenor, Anne Howat and vice chairman, Marjorie Tennant, Selkirkshire Federation; Communications – convenor, Anne Kerr and vice convenor, Aileen Cavers, Dumfriesshire Federation; Finance -  convenor Molly Sangster, Inverness & The Islands and vice convenor, Elizabeth Hay, Stirling, Clackmannan & West Perth.

I was delighted that my first appointment after meetings week was a tree planting ceremony in my own Blairgowrie Group. It was a wet day, but that did not dampen the spirits of those attending. 

Thereafter I joined the Study Tour to Northern Ireland. This was the first Study Tour I had attended and was a very enjoyable time. The weekend following, we immediately went into Gardening Scotland where we again had a promotional stand and met many members. I am delighted to report that we had great interest from non-members, many completing forms for further details of their nearest Institutes. These are being followed up over the summer months.  

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.