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    A Brief History of FAWCO

    Learn more about FAWCO's History through the publication The Red Book.

    FAWCO was founded in 1931 by Caroline Curtis Brown, then President of the American Women's Club in London, who believed that enlightened women, working cooperatively throughout the world, could do much to help achieve international peace. Its objectives, defined at a meeting of seven clubs in London, were to

    work towards international goodwill and the preservation of world peace, to help one another solve problems common to them all and to aid women whose citizenship rights were being ignored or restricted.

    International Peace and Equal Rights - The Early Years

    In its early years, the Federation was mainly concerned with "big" issues: furtherance of international peace, the Equal Rights Bill in the United States and citizenship status for US women married to foreigners, as well as the creation of a scholarship program.

    All activities were suspended from 1939 to 1949, but in the ten post-war years, the Federation grew from 8 to 18 member clubs, established a Citizenship Committee to work on questions of absentee voting, reinstated its scholarship program and made its first "Mutual Aid" donation to earthquake victims in Thessaly.

    Family and Education - The Sixties

    During the Sixties, FAWCO turned its attention to changing patterns in family life and investigation of the particular richness of dual-cultural heritage. The FAWCO Foundation was established in 1967 and has since developed a large-scale awards program for study in the United States and abroad. From its first grant of $1,000 in 1971, it has expanded to an annual program totaling over $40,000. In addition to its Education Awards, it also administers a Development Grants program to projects proposed by Member Clubs, ranging from the photo-tracing of Rwandan children in the refugee camps of Tanzania to a literacy project for women and girls in Morocco. Each year it also raised funds for a local project in the country of the Club hosting the annual FAWCO conference.

    US Citizenship and Voting - The Seventies and Eighties

    Citizenship and voting were key FAWCO issues in the Seventies, when it was instrumental in obtaining the vote for overseas US citizens in 1975 and began work on transmission of citizenship to children born abroad of one American parent, joining with other American organizations to advocate equitable treatment for American citizens abroad. FAWCO expanded from 23 to 44 Member Clubs during the Eighties, incorporated and obtained tax-exempt status, established a Relief Fund and made donations to Mexico earthquake victims and a Women's Development Association in Sierra Leone, set up a permanent Resource Center in The Hague and held its first annual meeting outside Europe, in Casablanca, in 1986.

    World Federations Abroad and United Nations NGO - The Nineties

    In 1990, FAWCO joined forces with the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO), American Citizens Abroad (ACA) and the European Council of American Chambers of Commerce (ECACC) to form the World Federation of Americans Abroad (WFAA), whose representatives have gone regularly to Washington to meet with policy makers on behalf of the more than three million Americans who live abroad. Recognized by the United Nations as a Non Governmental Organization in 1995, FAWCO defined a platform at its 1995 Biennial Conference, held in Nairobi, which was defended at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in autumn 1995. It was also represented at Habitat II in Istanbul and sent representatives to the Peace Conference in The Hague in May 1999. 


    As the 21st century began, FAWCO held its conference for the first time in the United States: in March 2000 with a census theme, Coming Home to be Counted. Together with other American overseas organizations, FAWCO representatives began annually attending Overseas American Week in Washington DC. FAUSA was established as an alumni arm of FAWCO. Internationally, FAWCO joined CoNGO, the UN Conference of NGOs, and new emphasis was put on the UN Millennium Goals as global issues began to take center stage.


    Women were designated as the central theme of FAWCO’s global outreach; the Target Program was launched, with both education and philanthropy as the important aspects of the program. A new logo, which symbolizes a transition from an American focus to a global attitude, and a new tagline, Inspiring Women Worldwide, were developed in a rebranding process. As the second decade ended, the COVID-19 pandemic changed FAWCO’s way of functioning. Several worldwide meetings were held on the Hopin platform, and there was an increased number of online meetings for Board and committee work and FAWCO-wide events.

    FAWCO Today

    Today, FAWCO's clubs stretch across six continents, from Norway to Kenya, and from Columbia to Australia. The issues that led to its creation continue to be addressed through FAWCO's activities as a UN-accredited NGO. FAWCO continues to work with its four pillars of Member Club Support, Philanthropy, US Issues and Global Issues. The areas of advocacy in global issues are education, the environment, health and human rights. 

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