BPW International Constitution Reform

Dr Jean Murray

The members of BPW International believe the current Constitution and By-laws are broken and need to be fixed.  Members believe they are outdated and too complicated, and need to be modernised and simplified, and voted overwhelmingly for Constitutional Reform at two Congresses.

In 2005 the Luzern Congress voted for Organisational Review and Reform, which included a reformed Constitution.  The Constitutional reform did not proceed in that triennium, but in 2008 in Mexico the Congress again voted for Constitutional Review and Reform, with a vote of 106 for the resolution and only 6 against.  Of the submissions received to the Constitutional Review Discussion Paper from 62 Affiliates and 23 individual members during the review stage, not one submission was in favour of retaining the current Constitution and By-laws, and every one sought changes.  There was no support for the current committee structure, and many concerns were expressed about current voting arrangements.

Joan Bielby, who was awarded the BPW Badge of Honour in Mexico, stated her view as:

I completely disagree with the comment that the current constitution is not broken.  A large number of members have spent many hours on the reform of the Constitution.  The current Constitution was accepted by voting on each clause separately and sometimes going back to the previous constitution so that we finished up with clauses from the proposed new constitution and clauses from the previous constitution. It was broken when it was adopted and the numerous amendments in different language types has not helped.

It is broken so let us fix it. It needed modernising. I do not agree with everything but I agree with the principle.

The submissions from the 17 Affiliates and 10 individual members who commented on the first draft of the Constitution and Regulations, and the regional consultations, indicated a wide consensus on most aspects of the draft Constitution and Regulations with only 7 of 29 clauses still under discussion.  These were presented as options in the second draft.  The Constitutional Advisory Committee conducted workshops at regional conferences attended by numerous Affiliates and invited submissions.  Submissions from 16 Affiliates, 3 Past Presidents, 4 Executive Board members and 2 members of the Expert Advisory Panel are being collated.

The Constitutional Reform Taskforce and the Constitutional Advisory Committee have followed the instructions in Resolution 26.  They were required to consult widely and to produce a Constitution that is modern and high level; includes organizational values, a mission statement, simplified objectives and definitions; that restructures the committees and allows for hoc short-term action groups to address emerging issues; and that provides for a database of member interests, expertise, experience and skills.  The Constitutional Reform Taskforce was instructed by Congress to take account of a number of Constitutional Amendments that were referred to it, which focussed mainly on Executive Board membership and voting arrangements.  This is the work the Constitution committees have done, and it has been done with great thought and professionalism.

Dr Jean Murray, Chair, Constitutional Reform Taskforce

Anne Todd-Lambie, Chair, Constitutional Advisory Committee


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