The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) was founded in 1990, with funding and support from the European Commission.

The idea of the EWL had been developed at a conference of European women’s organisations in London in 1987, which 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’.


The structure of governance involves a general assembly, made up of four delegates for each member state elected by national organisations; a Bureau elected by the General Assembly; and a secretariat to carry out the day-to-day work.

Writing in 1992 about its creation, Jacqueline de Groot stated:

‘Women still have rights to defend; equality remains largely theoretical, achieved on paper only. Women’s organisations are now ready to intervene effectively to defend their rights in the political sphere. Furthermore, women cannot fight for equality in a society built by men only – women’s views are an essential part in the construction of any new society. The European Community is a new society in the making. It is essential that women should be able to say now, how they propose to make it a democratic society that protects individual rights and emphasizes solidarity.’ (Women’s International Studies Forum, 15.1)