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European Women’s Lobby

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest European umbrella network of women’s associations, representing a total of more than 2000 organisations in 26 EU Member States, three Candidate Countries, one former EU Member State and one European Free Trade Association country, as well as 17 European-wide organisations representing the diversity of women and girls in Europe. EWL envisions a society in which women’s contribution to all aspects of life is recognised, rewarded and celebrated – in leadership, in care and in production; all women have self-confidence, freedom of choice, and freedom from violence and exploitation; and no woman or girl is left behind.

The origins of EWL can be traced back to a conference held in London in November 1987. At this conference, 120 women, members of 85 organisations and representing 50 million individual members, came together and adopted two resolutions. The first called for the ‘creation of a structure for influence, open to all interested women’s organisations, to exert pressure on European and national institutions to ensure better defence and representation of women’s interest’. In a second resolution, the delegates called on the European Commission to ‘lend its support for the organisation in early 1988 of a meeting with a view to the implementation of such a structure’.

In 1990, the European Commission granted its support for the foundation of the European Women’s Lobby, with a Secretariat based Brussels, the location of the main European Union institutions. The EWL’s founding members were the national coordinating organisations of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as well as 17 large European-wide women’s organisations.

The creation of EWL was therefore linked to the creation of a new form of public space at European level and a new form of interaction between citizens and political officials. The EWL’s activities meet two types of needs :

  • To lobby at European level and to provide information to decision-makers to ensure that women’s rights and needs as well as a gender perspective , are taken into account in the preparation of policies and legislation.
  • Promote their participation of women’s organisations at EU level and provide them with the information they need to do so.

The EWL thus plays a dual role as a link between women’s organisations and institutions. The EWL facilitates dialogue and exchanges between citizens and European decision-makers. It also works to put women’s issues on the political agenda, such as violence against women, for which EU legislation (applicable to all countries) will be adopted in March 2022, a long-standing demand of women in Europe. Because of its advisory status in both the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the Council of Europe, the EWL plays an instrumental role at the international level.

European organisations working in the field of gender equality and for women’s rights and that share EWL’s feminist vision and values can apply to become members of EWL. We invite you to read about the membership structure here and find out more about who can be considered for membership in our Statutes under articles 4 to 6 here. For more information on how to become a Supporting Member organisation or for enquiries about full membership, you can contact the EWL at:

For individuals who share the vision and commitment of EWL and want to support the achievement of equality between women and men and promote women’s human rights in Europe, you can make a financial donation. Every contribution, however small, is an encouragement to EWL to continue fulfilling its mission.

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