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, 691 members across Scotland including the most rural of Islands to the highly populated vibrant cities.

Our newest Institute was born as recently as May 2015 with our new Pilot Scheme on the Isle of Mull.

With our Headquarters in Edinburgh, 32 Federations throughout Scotland and 731 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 is the first edition of 2017 - a very special year for our organisation. I hope you all had a pleasant time over the festive season and are now looking forward to the year ahead.

There is always a time lapse between the time I write this and publication. In early November, I took the opportunity to travel to Arran when I was attending an event in North Ayrshire. I was able to join Shiskine Institute, which had an open night and I met members from other Institutes on the island.

A talk by one of the members who had travelled extensively in India was most interesting. This was followed by a question and answer session with the members.

Kilmaurs SWI in Ayrshire celebrated its 40th anniversary and they enjoyed a lovely meal and remembered events that had taken place over the years. Later in the same week I was invited to join Thornhill SWI in Dumfriesshire for Sunday lunch on the occasion of its 90th birthday, and members were joined by the other Institutes in their group.

Wigtownshire Federation hosted the Quiz and the Matter of Opinion Competition at Newton Stewart. Two teams from Georgetown SWI Dumfriesshire were first and second in the quiz and Gilmourton SWI Lanarkshire won the Matter of Opinion after a lively debate. Brookfield SWI from Renfrewshire were runners up.

Next year will be a very special year for our organisation as we celebrate our centenary. The Centenary and H&H Committees have put a great deal of work into planning our celebrations.

They have been busy cataloguing the articles in headquarters and many of these will be on display in an exhibition being staged the Royal Scots Club and Headquarters in Heriot Row from 5 – 18 April. As well as the handcrafts, there will be sections on many aspects of our history including Mak Merry pottery, the magazine, fundraising through the years to name a few.

There will also be a display of written artefacts and I’m sure you have found the articles prepared by Brenda Shone for the magazine most interesting. On alternate days there will be demonstrations of traditional and modern crafts in Headquarters.

A new cookbook will be published which will include recipes you have submitted as well as some from celebrity chefs, our own demonstrators and from recent competitions. It is a very colourful publication.

Tea in the Park will take place in every Federation on 2 July. It will be great that rural members in Scotland will have the opportunity to celebrate in their own area. Venues vary from castles to racecourses, golf clubs to a chocolate factory but what is certain is that we will all have fun.

On September 9 representatives from every Federation will be invited to a garden party in Heriot Row Gardens opposite Headquarters where they will have afternoon tea and musical entertainment. On that day we will also plant a tree in the gardens to commemorate the centenary.

I hope each Institute will also think about fundraising for the Sandpiper Trust which provides equipment for doctors in all areas of Scotland to enable them to treat patients quickly before paramedics arrive.

Every Institute has been asked to provide a small piece of work. These will be amalgamated into banners which can be borrowed by Federations at a later date.

The squares of work can be any craft, knitting, embroidery, gold work, patchwork, Hardanger, or crochet - the list is endless. If you wish, it can reflect the area you live in or an architectural or historical feature in your neighbourhood.


National Chairman, Christine Hutton, found herself travelling to Brighton in June for the annual meeting of the WI. She is joined (left to right) by Ruth Shanks, world president ACWW, Janice Langley, chairman of NFWI, and Elizabeth Warden, NFWI Northern Ireland chairman.

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 61 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.