BPW International

BPW Australia is affiliated with BPW International, so members of BPW Australia are also members of BPW International and are able to connect with BPW members around the world through the BPWI website here. BPW Australia falls under the BPW Asia Pacific region and we foster strong connections with the other BPW Affiliates in our region.

BPW International is one of the most influential global networks of women, with members in over 100 countries on 5 continents. A portion of our BPW Australia membership fees are paid to BPW International to help support the organisation’s work at the United Nations and globally. BPW International works collaboratively with other global women’s organisations to make a difference for women around the world, and these connections are also replicated at the regional and national level.

As BPW’s voice at the United Nations, BPW International presents to UN meetings information and opinions obtained from our Affiliates worldwide. BPW International enjoys Category 1 Consultative Status with ECOSOC, the United Nations Economic and Social Council. BPW International also has full Consultative Status with: UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation; the Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund; ILO, the International Labour Office; UNIDO, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation; and WHO, the World Health Organisation. In addition, BPW International works closely with the Commission on Human Rights, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.  BPW International has official representatives accredited by the United Nations on most of these UN agencies and representatives who have speaking rights who advocate on our members’ behalf at the UN Headquarters in New York, Vienna and Geneva.  BPW continues to work closely with UN Women, previously UNIFEM. 

The root of BPW’s advocacy is embedded in our work with the United Nations. BPW International’s relationship with the UN predates its formation – BPW International was associated with the League of Nations before the UN was established. Then, BPW International was known as the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, which is the name under which it is still accredited at the United Nations. BPW lobbied for the formation of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and was awarded a Peace Messenger Certificate from UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar in 1987. Esther Hymer, our long-term BPW representative at the UN in New York, was named as one of three women who played a significant role in the work of the UN Commission by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 1997. 

At a regional level, BPW has participatory status with the Council of Europe and the European Women’s Lobby, with the African Union, with the Union of South American Nations and with APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Forum. BPW International co-founded Commonwealth Businesswomen and helped to establish the W20, the women's forum held alongside the G20.  BPW International, under then President Freda Miriklis from Australia, refined and promoted the Women's Empowerment Principles and engaged international support for their promulgation.

Every three years, BPW International holds an International Congress to which every Affiliate is invited to report and to bring resolutions to be debated. These resolutions become the advocacy platform for BPW internationally and are passed to our representatives in the international forums of the United Nations.

BPW Australia always participates in these International Congresses, with a contingent of members drawn from most states and territories. Our delegation agrees on a distinctive Australian image to promote our presence - see photos of BPW Australia members in Aboriginal print jackets below.

A significant number of BPW Australia members have been elected to BPW International Executive positions. Australia can celebrate four Presidents of BPW International, more than any other Affiliate globally: Freda Miriklis, 2011 – 2014, Dr Pat Harrison 1999 – 2002, Beryl Nashar 1974 – 1977 and Patience Thoms 1968 – 1971.   Our current BPW International President is Dr Catherine Bosshart from Switzerland.

BPW International is divided into five regions, each of which has a Regional Coordinator: Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America. As a member of the BPW Asia Pacific Region, BPW Australia sends a delegation to the BPW Asia Pacific Regional Conference held between International Congresses.

BPW International Congress 

Many BPW Australia members have attended a BPW International Congresses around the world, as elected members of the BPWI Executive, as appointed Congress officials, as voting delegates of BPW Australia, and simply as members engaging with our organisation on a global scale. These members will tell you about the amazing experiences they enjoyed, the connections they made, and the benefits of learning and networking in a stimulating multicultural gathering of inspiring women.  You're invited!  Plan to attend the next BPWI Congress and experience it for yourself.

The 2020 BPWI Congress was held online in 2021, due to the COVID pandemic preventing travel. Being online meant many BPW members around the world, including in small and developing nations, were able to attend their first Congress. 

The BPW International Congress rotates around the 5 regions. The most recent face-to-face BPW International Congress was held in Egypt in 2017.  BPW Australia member Freda Miriklis, then the BPW International President, presided over the 2014 BPW International Congress in South Korea on the theme: Empowered Women Leading Business. Previous Congresses were held in 2011 in Helsinki, Finland, in 2008 in Mexico City, and in 2005 in Lucerne, Switzerland. In 2002, Melbourne hosted the BPWI Congress, combining it with the BPW Australia National Conference.  

The 2024 BPW International Congress will be held in St Kitts in the Caribbean from 17 to 23 November.  President Gillian is attending as a Member of the BPW International Board, and is welcoming members to join the BPWA delegation.  These links will take you to access informative presentations on the 2024 Congress and past Congresses.  

BPWI Newsletter 

Members - Click Here to access the BPW International Newsletter

<< All album photos 2/5 photos

Australian Members on BPW International Committees and Taskforces

Asia Pacific - Oceania Sub-Regional Coordinator

Marilyn Forsythe

Because of its geographical size Asia-Pacific has (5) subregions. The subregional coordinators are members of affiliates who have a good knowledge and understanding of BPW International and its functions and activities and are selected by the regional coordinator and formally appointed by the BPW International President. 

BPW International Past Presidents - Australian members


Freda Miriklis

Pat Harrison

Beryl Nashar

1968 - 1971
Miss Patience R Thoms OBE

 UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

BPW Australia members have the opportunity attend the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

 The United Nations Commission on the  Status of Women (CSW)

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