Vienna Circle: UN Women's Guild

Services | Vienna Review | December 2011 / January 2012

Charity work is a choice to give personal time for the benefit of others. But for the members of the United Nations Women’s Guild, helping the needy is just one positive factor.  Through the organisation, members learn language and practical skills that help them to adapt to life in a foreign country.

In 1948 the United Nations in New York allowed a group of employees’ wives recognised as the Women’s Guild to add the UN name to its organisation. Initially the guild served the mothers and children from the nations devastated by the Second World War, but now has expanded to other United Nations locations, each with its own independent guild, including one in Vienna.

Today, with at least 500 members from more than 100 countries, the Guild dedicates itself to helping mothers and children through charity projects. Membership is not limited to women employed by the UN, wives of employees and staff of the organisation’s permanent missions, but also allows members of diplomatic missions to participate on an "associative" level (no voting rights).

Speaking English is not a prerequisite or for participating in the Women’s Guild, as its members help each other by forming language-based groups and translating for each other.

While the guild’s aim is charity, it’s also a hub for integration; this includes language lessons and trips to institutions, local events, coffee houses and restaurants. Other events are directed toward international multicultural exchange, including welcoming coffees, drawing workshops, visiting dress rehearsals at the Musikverein and the Staatsoper, and even trips to other countries.

For fundraising, the organisation runs several projects, mostly located in the Vienna International Centre. These include the UNWG Book Stall, with a selection of second-hand books in various languages; the Kiosk with different international products; and the White Elephant Boutique, which offers high-quality second-hand items. The organisation also accepts vintage coins and stamps to raise money at its annual bazaar.

Capital gained from these activities is then donated to a number of member-proposed charities, brought to the UNWG’s attention throughout the year. Last year the Guild raised an odd €200,000 for 33 charities in 30 different countries.

The yearly UNWG International Festival Charity Bazaar yields the most profit and is therefore the most important event for the Guild. The bazaar has stands from different countries offering visitors an international selection of foods and gifts, ranging from saris to stamps, quilts to kilts. Each country competes to see who raises the most money. It also hosts presentations, choirs and folkloric dances, and is a great event for meeting the international community.

For more information about the UN Women’s Guild international bazaar, see Special Events, p. 23.


The United Nations Women’s

Guild of Vienna,

Mon.–Fri., 10:00–15:00

Vienna International Centre

22.,Wagramer Strasse 5

(01) 2600-24276, (01) 2602-64284,

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