Ulster Women's Unionist Council

Biography/History

The Ulster Women's Unionist Council was established on 23 January 1911. Initiated as the female equivalent to the main Ulster Unionist Council, it was established as an auxiliary organisation to oppose home rule, promote unionist propaganda and preserve the legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland. Led by members of Ulster's aristocratic elite, such as Mary Anne, 2nd Duchess of Abercorn and Theresa, 6th Marchioness of Londonderry, it became the largest female political association in early 20th century Ireland with a membership of between 115,000-200,000 by 1913 and a range of local branches throughout the north of Ireland. On the outbreak of World War I the organisation became engaged in extensive charity work, making arrangements to care for those who were discharged from the forces on medical grounds and inaugurating the Ulster Women's Gift Fund for Soldiers. After the Representation of the People Act in 1918 the movement became involved in the registration of women voters. Subsequent reorganisation involved speakers' classes, meetings that combined education with entertainment, and the holding of meetings outside Belfast to increase interest in the work of the Women's Council at a local level. Today the headquarters of the Ulster Unionist Council is located in Glengall Street, Belfast.