Open Door

The “Open Door” Networking Forum is an umbrella body that was formed to help members of International Women’s Clubs around the world make contact with one another. In the 37 years it has been around, “Open Door” has become a network of over 80 clubs spanning 40 countries and over the years has been of enormous value to those involved.

In addition to the support available to members who are relocating internationally, support is also provided to members traveling abroad

Throughout the international network, celebrations take place on a regular basis to which IWC Cape Town members are invited and often attend.

Aims & Objectives

Open Door aspires to facilitate and promote inter-Club contact and communication between International Women’s Associations which are non-political, non-religious, non-commercial, and where membership is open to all nationalities. The Open Door network is administered through the means of a Directory of member Associations with Club and Contact details of Presidents and International Coordinators.

The main objectives of Open Door are to:

  • provide an immediate point of contact for a member from an affiliated Association moving to or visiting a town or city where a ‘Sister Club’ exists
  • grant guest status at a monthly meeting to meet groups of expatriate and like-minded women provided she presents her membership card or introduction letter from her Association to the international coordinator of that Club
  • help and advise new Associations and provide help and support to Clubs where needed
    Membership in an affiliated Association is not automatic. Each Association is autonomous and membership is governed by its Constitution and other legal rules.
How It Started

The idea of Open Door was started in IWC Stockholm by Elisabeth Sammann, in 1980. She got the idea while travelling abroad with her husband, a Rotarian. The hospitality extended to him by fellow Rotarians in foreign cities impressed her so much that she thought this could help members of International Women’s Associations have a similar reciprocity in “opening their doors to each other” when visiting or moving to a city or town in another country.

Open Door started with just nine International Women’s Associations, each agreeing to nominate an International Coordinator to welcome IWC members to their Clubs as guests at monthly meetings, and other Club activities as well as occasionally exchanging Club Newsletters and correspondence. At the same time Ismelda Pellet, Vice-President of IWC The Hague, had also started a network of Associations with the aim of forging closer links of friendship through exchanges with International Women’s Associations worldwide.

By the end of 1983, Elisabeth had a total of eighteen Associations and Ismelda had twelve. They came in contact with each other and decided to join forces. Five years later, Elisabeth moved back to Chile with her family and Ismelda took over as Open Door Chairman.

For further information: Our Open Door representative in Cape Town is Anne-Sophie Richter. Please contact her at

“One woman can make a difference, but together we can rock the world!”


Whoever wrote that understood the strength that comes from women when they do something together! As International Coordinator of “Open Door” on behalf of the Cape Town International Women’s Club, I have often observed how the women who belong to International clubs all around the world are just like us – women who want to do something with other women and for other women. In that way we are very similar, no matter where we were born and no matter what language we speak.

One of the wonderful special features of IWC Cape Town is the fact that we are part of an enormous organisation – today 62 International Womens’ Associations in 32 countries “open their doors” to each other. While we focus on the friendships we forge inside the club here in Cape Town, it is worth remembering that we are part of something much larger.

Most of us travel. Some of us travel a lot, some just every now and again. If you would like to meet like-minded women in other parts of the world and join in a meeting or “meet and greet” in a foreign country, let me know. It would be a huge pleasure to make it happen. Just promise to come back and tell us about our counterparts around the globe.

International Spotlight

We thought it would be fun to keep an eye on what some of the IWC organisations are doing elsewhere in the world. Every two months, we’ll draw in some information about one of them and feature it on our own website. If you have some news about the international network of women’s clubs that you would like to share, please just let me know!

Anne-Sophie Richter
(082) 407-2676 or annesophie@telkomsa/net

40th Ruby Anniversary greetings from Stockholm, Kent and Johannesburg

We received wonderful anniversary messages from across the international waters. They came from Barbara Bruszt, the International Coordinator of IWC Stockholm, Vera Robinson International Coordinator of Kent England, and closer to home from Heather Ferreira International Coordinator IWC Johannesburg.

From IWC Bruszt

Dear Sisters of International Women’s Club of Cape Town

On behalf of members of International Women’s Club of Stockholm I would like to congratulate your Club on its 40th anniversary.

We are sending many warm wishes from Stockholm.

From KIC Kent

Thank you very much for your good wishes. We would like to take this opportunity to wish all your members a happy 40th anniversary and are sending our warmest wishes for a happy, successful and fun filled decade when you will celebrate half a century. That’s quite an achievement!

From IWC Johannesburg

Thank you for your email and kind wishes on our 50th Anniversary. We certainly have a lot to celebrate and in particular the amazing friendships that have been forged over the years.

On behalf of our President, Una Rowlands, and our Board and membership, congratulations on your 40th Anniversary. We hope that this year will be a memorable one for you.