“Each woman, as a citizen, must bring to the national policy of her own country, the contribution of forward-looking and constructive thought followed by determined action. Each woman must dedicate herself to protect and promote the interests of all other women in business and the professions.”
1881-1955 Dr. Lena Madesin Phillips
- born in Kentucky
- graduated University of Kentucky Law School 1917
- first woman to graduate with full honors
- highest grades in her class
- opened her own law firm
- began to be fully active in women’s equality issues, especially economic equality
- moved to New York City to engage in broader female issues and create women’s groups.
Dr. Phillips was convinced that no form of equality could endure, or be effective, unless it had a sound economic base.
1919 Founded National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs of the United States of America.
- Her Vision:
Business and professional women taking their rightful places in business and the professions, working together to support and help each other, doing advocacy and philanthropic work.
- Initial state and local affiliate federations/clubs that joined:
- California BPW
- LaGrange-Chicago Affiliate Chapter, Illinois
- New York BPW
- Pacific Rim International State Federation (with members in Oregon and Washington)
1928 -1929 “Good Will Tours” to Europe
- Met like-minded business and professional women
- Promoted affiliations between US and European women
1930 Founded the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW)
To be world minded, back then, made one seem to be slightly odd. . . But we had enthusiasm and faith, youthful energy, and most important, a cause whose hour had struck. With such equipment, meagre to those who value only material things, sufficient for dreamers such as find castles in the clouds, we organized.”
Quite unconsciously, with these words, Dr. Lena Madesin Phillips had also appraised herself.
- Founding member countries of IFBPW:
- Great Britain
- United States of America
1930 -1947 Elected as the first IFBPW President
1947 IFWBPW Receives Consultative Status with the United Nations through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
- Recognized as a non-governmental organization (NGO)
- Presently, there are twenty-one members, including ten EPW-NYC members, serving as representatives at the United Nations, and its subsidiary organs and specialized agencies, and related organizations.
More about this under the UN tab on this website.
1955 Goal was to Organize the Women in the Middle East
On her way to the Middle East, the meeting point of three continents, to ignite more fires for the cause of women’s equality, the end suddenly overtook Dr. Philips.
She once said to women younger than herself:
“You are now pioneers in the dream of peace and social justice, of international understanding and goodwill. This dream will come to pass. It matters little whether you or I live to see the day. It is only important that each of us struggle without pause towards that day.”
She enriched us with a legacy and pledged us to fulfill a mandate.
The International Federation of Business and Professional Women is also called BPW International. The name “The National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs of the United States” is no longer used. Presently, Enterprising and Professional Women – USA (EPW-USA) is the national organization affiliated with BPW International.
EPW-NYC is an affiliate of both BPW International and EPW-USA. When you join EPW-NYC, you are automatically a member of BPW International and EPW-USA.
“Making a Difference Through Leadership and Action”