International Candlelighting instructions


We have come together to participate in a special tribute to one of the world’s most influential organisations, the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, which unites women around the world. Although its members speak in many languages and live in countries with differing traditions they share the same determination of purpose.

More than 80 years ago, BPW was founded by Dr Lena Madesin Phillips from the United States of America and a few years later she conceived the idea of the Candle Lighting Ceremony. As we perform this ceremony, we will evoke historical memories, the many accomplishments and celebrate today’s achievements.

The members of the United States of America made good-will tours to Europe to share their interests and their beliefs with women of Europe. Through their efforts and influence, groups were organised in several countries. In 1930, women from sixteen countries met in Geneva where a long cherished dream – the forming of the International Federation – became a reality.

The candles symbolize the ambitions and endeavours of dedicated women in every country around the world.

Each WHITE candle represents a Federation. Each BLUE candle stands for a country where there is at least one Associated Club, and the PINK candles for Individual Members.

The candle in the middle represents the oldest group of BPW Affiliates of the United States of America (Light the USA candle).

The tallest candle represents the International Federation. (Light the tallest candle). In the warmth and glow of its tolerant light, Business and Professional Women in all parts of the world come together to share memories in friendship and reflect on the founding principles envisioned by Lena Madesin Phillips, that govern the International Federation which stands out as a beacon to women everywhere. Using our combined abilities and strength we renew our commitment for the attainment of the following objectives:

  • To work for high standards of service in business and the professions.
  • To encourage women and girls to acquire education, occupational training and advanced education, and to use their occupational capacities and intelligence for the advantage of others as well as themselves.
  • To stimulate and encourage in women, awareness and acceptance of their responsibilities to the community, locally, nationally and internationally.
  • To work for equal opportunities and status for women in the economic, civil and political life in all countries, and to work for the removal of all discrimination.
  • To promote world-wide friendship, co-operation and understanding between business and professional women.

Let us now light the other candles and remember our members on every continent who will be celebrating in the same manner. As we light the candles for them, they will light the candle for our country.

First we light candles for each of the FOUNDING Federations of BPW International (Light a WHITE candle as each country is named):


Today, there are also Federations in (light the remaining WHITE candles as each country is named):

Argentina                          Indonesia                          Singapore

Australia                           Ireland                              Spain

Bangladesh                       Japan                               Sudan

Belgium                            Jordan                             Sweden

Brazil                                Korea                               Switzerland

Chile                                 Nepal                                Thailand

Cyprus                              Mexico                              Taiwan

Ecuador                            Netherlands                     Uzbekistan

Egypt                                New Zealand                     Estonia

Nigeria                              Finland                             Pakistan

Germany                         Poland

We also honor our ASSOCIATED CLUBS in the following countries (light the BLUE candles; name each country slowly and clearly):

American Samoa               Dem Rep of Congo           Papua New Guinea

Bahrain                             El Salvador                       Philippines

Barbados                          Haiti                                  Romania

Benin                                Hungary                            Russian Federation

Bermuda                           Kuwait                              Slovakia

Bulgaria                            Iceland                             South Africa

Burkina Faso                     India                                 Sri Lanka

Bolivia                               Israel                                St. Kitts

Cambodia                         Côte d’ Ivoire                    Togo

Cameroon                         Jamaica                            Turkey

Cayman Islands                Latvia                              Trinidad & Tobago

Chad                                Malta                                United Arab Emirates

Cook Islands                     Moldova                            Ukraine

Costa Rica                        Morocco                           Uruguay

China (Hong Kong)            Netherlands                      Antilles Yemen

Croatia Palestine State      Czech Republic Panama

We also honor our INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS in (light the PINK candles):

Saudia Arabia                   Lebanon                           Syria

BPW International is a dynamic and powerful organisation of world importance. Public opinion and legislation in many countries have been influenced by its work. It has broadened our horizons and skills. It has increased our rights and our opportunities, and it has expanded our service to one another and to the community. As our voice at the United Nations Organisation, it presents to that world body information and opinions obtained from our Affiliates worldwide. It enjoys Category 1, Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It also has Consultative Status with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund, the International Labour Office, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and the World Health Organisation. It works closely with the Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on the Status of Women, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Council of Europe and other specialised agencies.

As we come to the end of another Candle Lighting Ceremony,

let us light the last candle

– the candle of the FUTURE (light the last candle).

As we light this candle, let us reaffirm our aim to go forward with faith, with courage, and with enthusiasm, to take our place in economic, social and political fields of endeavour, helping us to bring into being a world of social justice for all, and the peace to which all humanity aspires.

Follow the ceremony with the INTERNATIONAL COLLECT

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