In 1982, toward the end of the UN Decade for Women, 26 people from North American development agencies, agricultural universities and community organizations gathered to discuss the role of women as agents and beneficiaries of the development process. They founded AWID, a professional association where people concerned with women in development could dialogue across sectors and improve their effectiveness as professionals in this new field.
Over time, the vision of AWID members has expanded, from the initial goal of integrating women into development practices to include transforming the process of development itself in order to make a better world for women. AWID's scope of analysis and action has likewise broadened to include women's human rights, in addition to the organization's historic focus on sustainable development and gender equality.
Through our current Strategic Plan 2006-2010 AWID is working to build on our successes and challenge new obstacles to advance the rights of women by working with women’s rights advocates, organizations and movements worldwide to both increase our visibility and capacity to make change happen. As AWID we believe that collectively we need to be able transform social norms, institutions, laws, economic policies, other social movements as well as ourselves in order to ultimately guarantee the rights of women and girls around the world.
AWID today is a membership organization of over 5,000 men and women. Ten International Forums on Women’s Rights and Development have helped to foster a community with common goals and diverse strategies. From its offices in Toronto, Mexico City and Cape Town, and other staff working from countries in different regions, AWID is working to continuously innovate, improve and internationalize its work to serve the needs of this growing community.
From WID to GAD to Women's Rights: The First Twenty Years of AWID provides an excellent overview of the history of our organization.