American Women for International Understanding Fact Sheet


  • Founded to promote worldwide woman-to-woman interaction and understanding
  • Over 50 years of citizen diplomacy through delegations, grants, awards, local chapter outreach and educational programs
  • Collaborates with the U.S. State Department to host the annual International Women of Courage Celebration
  • National membership with chapters in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York State, Northern California, Orange County, San Diego, and Washington D.C.


  • Delegations sponsored for travel to over 65 countries to date
  • First group of American women to visit China after 1973 détente, to visit Russia in 1976, and to visit Libya in 40 years in 2009. Recent delegations traveled to Myanmar (Burma) in 2014, Chiapas, Mexico, in 2015, Ethiopia in 2016, Nicaragua in 2017, and upcoming delegation to Morocco in January 2019.
  • Delegations meet with leaders in government, business, and charitable organizations and visit embassies, institutions, historical sites and private homes. Information-sharing to all AWIU members upon return via presentations and digital communication.

Grant Program

  • Awards grants to nonprofit organizations focused on training and empowering women and girls in the areas of leadership, technology, health care and journalism. Recent grant focus on women-owned businesses in developing countries.
  • Past grantees include NGOs that support women photojournalists from developing countries, victims of human trafficking in Uganda, jurists from Muslim countries, teachers in Kenya, technology workers in Afghanistan. Recent business-focused grants include support for jewelry-making project in Peru and sewing and tailoring co-op in Uganda. Recent health-focused grants include cervical cancer screening in Nicaragua and clean water cistern at a girls’ school in the Ivory Coast.
  • Annual grants also awarded to the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage.

International Women of Courage Celebration

  • Since 2008 AWIU has collaborated with the U.S. State Department to recognize women around the globe who have made a substantial difference in the lives of women in their home countries. AWIU hosts the International Women of Courage Celebration and awards grants to every honoree designated by the State Department.
  • The AWIU Internationalism Award is also presented at the Celebration to an American woman who has made exceptional contributions to world understanding and betterment.
  • Past Internationalism Award recipients include: Philanthropist Doris Buffett, Former First Lady Laura W. Bush, Former First Lady of Egypt The Honorable Madame Jehan el Sadat, PhD, Author and Civic Activist Bette Bao Lord, Former Ambassador The Honorable Shirley Temple Black, Former Executive Director of the World Food Programme The Honorable Ertharin Cousin among other notable businesswomen, philanthropists, diplomats, and activists.