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

AS I WRITE this in early January, temperatures are very low. The frost and snow showers leave us all shivering, but I hope the cold weather and icy conditions are not preventing you from making it out to your meetings to share the warmth of friendship with your fellow members.

The year began on a sad note. We were informed of the death of Alison Bayley, Davidson Mains Institute member for over 40 years and past national chairman 2005 to 2008. Alison made many friends throughout Scotland during her time as chairman and will be sadly missed by all who knew her. Our thoughts are with her family at this time.

Each year when the festivities are behind us this is sometimes when we take stock, look back as well as forward, and think about what we would like to achieve in the year ahead. This might be thoughts on diet and exercise (a necessity in my case), a new hobby or a new challenge. My challenge is to find new ways to promote our organisation and I invite you to join me in it.

Check in your own area, town or village for local events, be they large or small, that you might take a stand to spread the word. 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the suffragette movement so there may be events we could tap into. It is also the Year of Young People – one of the Scottish Government’s themed years ­- so think of ways to get young people involved in your activities.

In mid-November we received an email from our PR advisors Tricker PR asking if we could find members to knit 10 kilts for carrots. You can imagine my thoughts at this request. After a few phone calls, knitting needles were clicking and kilts, sporrans, sash and hat were to the ready.

Everything was very hush hush at that time but at the beginning of December we were called to Heriot Row for a photo shoot by Aldi. All was revealed and the toy versions of Kevin the Carrot – star of their advertising campaign ­- made their debut, kits and all! This was a fun opportunity to promote our organisation and assist Aldi in a fundraising campaign for their charity partner, Teenage Cancer Trust. My very grateful thanks to all the ladies who took part, and you can read more about it in this edition of Women Together.

Leading up to Christmas I attended Perth & Kinross Federation’s Christmas Day where we enjoyed a wonderful floral art demonstration in the morning followed by four corner demonstrations after lunch. We were taught how to make marzipan fruits, ribbon craft Christmas tree decorations and Christmas gift tags and cards. A mother and daughter from Kinross-shire also gave us tastes of their homemade jams and chutneys which we were able to purchase.

Rothiemay Institute celebrated its 100th birthday with a lovely afternoon tea on the 17 December. It was the first Institute to be formed in Banffshire and I was delighted to be able to join the members for their special day.

This time of year is always a little quieter and a time to recharge our batteries for the coming year. The office bearers resume their duties from 10 January when Anne Kerr and I are to attend a Celebrate Women In Agriculture event to be held in The Scottish Parliament Garden Lobby.

Planning will continue throughout the year for our Conference in September and we have a planning meeting in Aberdeen at the end of the month where we hope to hold the next H & H conference. It is also the time of year to start thinking about demonstrations etc for the Royal Highland Show and Gardening Scotland.

We are taking a stand at Crafting Live this year which takes place the same weekend as Gardening Scotland so we will be looking for lots of volunteers to help us out at these events. If you have a spare couple of hours we will be very grateful for your support.

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.