Founded in 1968, AWIU is a community of women who care deeply about improving international understanding. We envision a more compassionate and interconnected world and strive to build goodwill and collaboration through voluntary, non-partisan, women-led action. Our mission is to build bridges of international understanding through personal connection and collaboration. The heart of our mission is to empower women to become highly effective global leaders, communicators and problem-solvers. We support equal access for women and girls to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.

AWIU members hail from a wide variety of professions. Members in six chapters across the United States (including a virtual chapter) focus on issues affecting women globally, and connect with women around the world to inspire and mentor the next generation of women leaders and learners.

At its inception, AWIU focused on international learning and citizen diplomacy through travel, study and symposia. In 1968, AWIU was the first organization in decades to send a delegation of American women leaders to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to meet with members of the Soviet Women's Committee. This historic trip was followed by delegations to China (1973), Saudi Arabia (2002), and Libya (2009), all groundbreaking in their time. AWIU delegations have since set foot on every continent except Antarctica in over 55 delegations and 100 country visits.

In 2008, AWIU established a micro-grant program to support women and children through non-governmental and women-led organizations. From funding bicycles for “untouchable” girls to get to school in India to goat farming in Uganda, our goal with these grants is to help women and children in developing countries build better lives.

Since 2008, AWIU has partnered with the U.S. State Department to award grants to women from around the world selected by the Secretary of State as International Women of Courage. The Awardees are recognized for their courageous leadership in advancing human rights, equity and equality as well as social progress for all, often at great personal risk and sacrifice. AWIU hosts the annual International Women of Courage Celebration each spring in Los Angeles. The Celebration acknowledges the groundbreaking work of these women while providing grants to support their work.

AWIU launched Passports to the Future in 2010, to support young women interested in international relations and to nurture their interest in global issues. Our “Passports” enjoy meaningful skill-building, networking and mentorship opportunities.

Since 2014, AWIU has hosted the one-day Career Opportunities in International Relations (COIR) Symposium in Washington, D.C., where young women can learn about careers in international affairs. COIR features speakers and panel discussions with diplomats, business leaders, academics and policy makers, and provides networking and engagement opportunities with women leaders in the field.

In 2022, AWIU was proud to be recognized by the U.S. State Department with its Gender Champion Award for AWIU’s long-standing support of women and girls from around the world. The Gender Champion Award honors governments, organizations and individuals who have exhibited exceptional and firm commitment to the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity.

AWIU Board of Directors

Officers 2024

Vice President

Jane Mursener Wetzel



Hanh Dao

Barbara J. Disko

Earlie Douglas

Magda Fehema-Sharkasi

Mary Pat Garr

Betty Houbion

Ingrid Johnson

Chun-Chieh Lin

Diane M. McGlinchey

Cynthy Moffatt

Gayle Graham Morin

Marsha Niazmand

Robin Winter Odem

Maria Emmi Schory

Joan M. Starr, Ph.D.

Janice Meagher Trojan

Carol Ann Warren

AWIU Annual Reports

International Understanding About AWIU

Support AWIU

AWIU is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Tax ID # 23-7273487

American Women for International Understanding
1900 East Golf Road, Suite 950
Schaumburg, IL 60173
phone: 202-643-1196 | email: info@awiu.org

Join The AWIU Newsletter!

Stay up to date with upcoming events and opportunities with AWIU

*Your information will not be sold or spammed

Scroll to Top