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Celebrating 90 Years of GWNZ!


Working together for education, peace, international understanding and friendship.

This year Graduate Women New Zealand – GWNZ, (Previously known as The New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women – NZFGW), celebrates 90 years of affiliation to the International Federation of University Women (IFUW). It is a connection to be proud of.

IFUW was founded just after World War I by women graduates who believed in the importance of educated women working together for peace, international understanding and friendship. Today its network links women graduates from all cultures, all fields of study, all professions and all generations. It has 61 national affiliates and members in more than 120 countries. IFUW promotes the rights of women and girls worldwide through access to quality education and training up to the highest levels. Through its own awards and those of its affiliates such as New Zealand, IFUW gives more than US$2million a year in fellowships and grants.

Graduate Women New Zealand has been part of this organization almost from its inception. The University Easter Tournament in Christchurch in 1921 provided an opportunity for representatives of some new groups of women graduates to meet and draw up a constitution for a New Zealand Federation. This was formally accepted by the International Federation at its second conference, in Paris in 1922.

When the first New Zealand conference took place in Dunedin the following year there were branches in the four University centres. Auckland and Otago were established in 1920, and Canterbury and Wellington in 1922. Over the years since, other Branches have come and gone: there are now nine with a total membership of more than 700.

Almost all the Branches own, care for and hire out academic dress for graduations.  This creates a revenue stream used for grants and fellowships.  In the two years 2009 and 2010, for example, GWNZ’s financial contribution to grants and fellowships through the various Branches’ Charitable Trusts was $1,072,450 – all for the benefit of women in higher education.

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