President’s Message July 2021

Dear FIWAL Friends,

It was particularly lovely to see so many of you at the FIWAL AGM followed by the 35thAnniversary celebration on the 8th June. The highlight of the celebration was the inspirational film that Laura Schapira had put together featuring FIWAL’s Past Presidents.  The whole event came to life with the wonderful musical contributions by two of our member clubs. The Ukrainian Cultural Association in London and our newest member, the Barcarolle Choir. I hope to continue our Past President Siobhan’s focus and interest in music as a way to connect cultures.

I greatly look forward to my two years as President of FIWAL and hope that I can continue the outstanding effort and commitment of Siobhan and the other Past Presidents. I have already met with the Executive committee and am pleased that we are moving forward with our first physically attended event in September. Do look out for full details in the near future either in The Dateline or on our website. We also agreed to hold the FIWAL Spring lunch in March 2022 in celebration of International Women’s Day.

We are looking to create a Communications team working with Susan (Dateline editor) and Barbara (Webmaster) to help develop our online activities so do get in touch if you have any technical experience of social media, websites, Zoom or Mailchimp and would like to join the team. Just email me at

Our member clubs are starting to hold their own physically attended events so I do hope that I might meet you at one of them in the near future. In the meantime, you can read my incoming speech as President below.

Best wishes from all of us at FIWAL.

Zehan Albakri


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Zehan’s Incoming President’s Speech :

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Siobhan on her time as President during such a difficult period in history.  She did an amazing job at keeping FIWAL relevant during this time and even increased our membership.  I hope I can keep up the pace.

It is a real honour to be appointed to the role of President of FIWAL.  For those of you who do not know me, I am a Founding charter member of PAWA, the Pan Asian Women’s Association which has been a FIWAL member since 2014 when we were proposed by Fatimah Gammage, a fellow Malaysian.  As a Malaysian in London, I was delighted to find an organization such as FIWAL which gave me the opportunity to meet with so many women from all over the world.

Looking to the future during my presidency, it seems strange to try to plan or formulate any ideas when there is still a level of uncertainty but I will be working closely with our amazingly dedicated Executive committee to keep focused on what really matters at FIWAL.

FIWAL’s mission is clearly stated as providing a forum for the exchange of information, ideas and expertise amongst member clubs.  With the belief that, when women of different races, religions and cultures meet up and find common ground through shared interests, this will lead to a better understanding, mutual support and friendship.  We will hear more about this from our Past Presidents.

With the world becoming increasingly polarized, I think it is this aspect of FIWAL’s founding principles that we will highlight – our cross-cultural exchange as well as being a safe and neutral place to meet, share and discuss without prejudice.  We will look at global topical issues which affect all women – health, technology, education, families and gender equality.

I will continue with Mary Jane on the work that we started this year on FIWAL’s branding and Identity to better reflect this.  I would love to have more interaction with our member clubs and work on joint shared initiatives.  So, if you have ideas, do get in touch.  I would love to hear from you.

I feel confident with the support of a great Executive committee, an experienced Advisory council and our diverse Member clubs, we will adapt and continue to build on FIWAL’s excellent reputation.

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