IWP History – Constitution to Statues

In 1996 International Women in Portugal (IWP) became a legal Portuguese club giving us a Fiscal Number and we had to rewrite out rules to follow the Portuguese system of running a club. This meant electing 3 boards to run IWP, the Membership Representation Board (MRB), The Executive Board (EB) and the Financial Review board (FRB) all with different roles as laid out in the new IWP’s Statues and Internal Regulations guided by Portuguese Law. www.iwpportugal.org/about-iwp/

This is straight forward when you understand the system but when you have come from other cultures, which most of our members do, at times it seems

rather confusing.

Every 2 years IWP holds a General Membership meeting (GMM) in November to elect the 3 boards to run the club for the next 2 years starting on 1st January of the following year.   When electing the 3 boards, we elected a Presidential candidate for each board and her team. We do not elect individual positions as in some countries. The election is run by a member of the MRB and a member of an election committee.

We Elect an Executive Board with a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Member Designate and they run the club according to clubs rules and regulations and how they think the club should be run. This sounds normal to most clubs.

We have Membership Representation Board with a President and 2 assistants and they represent the members and must ensure the members views on how IWP is being run are considered by the EB. So if you have a concern that you don’t feel the EB considering, you can approach the MRB with the view to them presenting your concern to the EB. The President of the MRB chairs and convenes the General Membership meetings. The MRB in consultation with the EB and FRB set a proposed Agenda. If you need a proxy vote as you are unable to attend a GMM you apply to the MRB. If a person’s membership is revoked or denied by the Executive Board they can appeal to the MRB who will present their appeal to the EB for consideration. Sounds a lot but these issues don’t arise often.

 And then we have a Financial Review Board with a President and 2 Assistants whose role is to Audit IWP’s financial records and report any concerns to the MRB.  The FRB  audit  a  copy  of  the  quarterly  Financial Statement and the budget for the year and  ensure  that  the  Association  complies  with  all  statutory requirements necessary as a result of the Association being a legal entity.

Like all clubs we have rules, ours in 3 sections Statues, Internal Regulations, and Policies and Procedures all of which were written to help us follow the Portuguese system and guide the boards and members on how the club should be run. The first 2 need member’s votes to change but the Policies and Procedures can be changed with a unanimous vote of the EB. All members should have an understanding of how the club is run and confusion can be avoided if members would spend 15 minutes reading through IWP’s Regulations.   Tedious you may think but little effort to recognise the hours past boards have spent writing them. I can still remember the tiredness felt by all at the end of the sessions in 2012.

You can find a copy of the on the IWP website www.iwpportugal.org/about-iwp/

So we have a team that runs the club according to the rules another team to bring to them any concerns the members may have and another team that advises and checks the financial situation.

All sounds very sensible and if you belong to other Portuguese clubs you should find you have at least these 3 boards and often lots of other Presidents and Vice Presidents covering different areas, especially in a large organisation. As President of the MRB, I hope this article will help people to understand the process. And with understanding encourage more people to volunteer to serve on a board.

International Women in Portugal – IWP

Membership Representation Board – MRB

Executive Board – EB

Financial Review Board – FRB

General Membership meeting – GMM

IWP History – Constitution to Statues

Norma Lehmann-Volgelweid:

IWP was formed as a club at its first General meeting on 17th September 1991 at the Atlántico Hotel, Monte Estoril. 70 ladies attended. “The proposed Constitution and By-laws and revisions resulting from members concerns were examined and discussed at length. Thanks to the diligence of Norma Lehmann-Volgelweid, the official Constitution and By-laws of IWP were ratified at 12:20 pm. Whew!”

From A Janela, IWP club magazine October 1991

 Nicky  Domen

In November 1996, the President Nicky Domen reported in A Janela, the board at their meeting on September18th, 1996 had discussed, ”The change in the Constitution due to the fact that the club had just become legal under Portuguese law.” An Election needed to be called to appoint the officers needed for the 3 boards needed to run the club. (I was membership secretary at the time.) Norma Lehmann-Volgelweid guided us in writing the new Constitution, translated into Portuguese with the help of a lawyer and printed in the Diário de Notícias. As 1997 Executive President in A Janela February 1997 I wrote “The largest task being undertaken by the three new boards and one of the most difficult is the rewriting of the club’s By-laws to fit in with the new Constitution which we have to adopt under Portuguese law being an official club.”  A Janela was written 6 weeks in advance so no instant e mails hence the September board meeting was only reported in November.

Therese Lopes and Rosemary Adams  

The Constitution was again updated in 2006, Therese Lopes was President helped by Rosemary Adams and again needing a lawyer and published in Diário de Notícias.


Sharon Wake

In 2012, the Executive board with Sharon Wake as Executive President updated the By-laws.  They changed the name of the Constitution to Statues and the By-laws to Internal regulations as this fitted better with the Portuguese translation. Lauren Wojtyle, the then treasurer, gave us guidance on how the Internal Regulations should be written and Flavia Soares, Vice- President guided us with the translation from Portuguese. I was at the meetings as I had urged the then board to update the By-Laws to fit with the 2006 Constitution. The new Internal Regulations were passed by the members at next AGM and apart from a few adjustments proposed at later General Meetings, they are the regulations that govern the running of IWP at the moment.

Tags: Executive Board | Financial Review Board | IWP Membership Representation Board

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