Each year clubs all over the world come together to participate in a ceremony to pay special tribute to one of the world’s most influential organisations, the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, which unites women around the world. Although its members speak in many languages and live in countries with differing traditions they share the same determination of purpose.
More than 80 years ago, BPW was founded by Dr Lena Madesin Phillips from the United States of America and a few years later she conceived the idea of the Candle Lighting Ceremony. As clubs perform this ceremony, they will evoke historical memories, the many accomplishments and celebrate today’s achievements.
The members of the United States of America made good-will tours to Europe to share their interests and their beliefs with women of Europe. Through their efforts and influence, groups were organised in several countries. In 1930, women from sixteen countries met in Geneva where a long cherished dream – the forming of the International Federation – became a reality.
The candles symbolize the ambitions and endeavours of dedicated women in every country around the world.
Each WHITE candle represents a Federation. Each BLUE candle stands for a country where there is at least one Associated Club, and the PINK candles for Individual Members.
The candle in the middle represents the oldest group of BPW Affiliates of the United States of America. The tallest candle represents the International Federation. In the warmth and glow of its tolerant light, Business and Professional Women in all parts of the world come together to share memories in friendship and reflect on the founding principles envisioned by Lena Madesin Phillips, that govern the International Federation which stands out as a beacon to women everywhere. Using our combined abilities and strength we renew our commitment for the attainment of the following objectives:
• To work for high standards of service in business and the professions.
• To encourage women and girls to acquire education, occupational training and advanced education, and to use their occupational capacities and intelligence for the advantage of others as well as themselves.
• To stimulate and encourage in women, awareness and acceptance of their responsibilities to the community, locally, nationally and internationally.
• To work for equal opportunities and status for women in the economic, civil and political life in all countries, and to work for the removal of all discrimination.
• To promote world-wide friendship, co-operation and understanding between business and professional
The other candles are lit to remember our members on every continent who will be celebrating in the same manner. As we light the candles for them, they will light the candle for our country.
The ceremony concludes with the INTERNATIONAL COLLECT
That we meet together as women, not allowing beliefs, religion, nationality, ethnicity or language to come between us.
That these meetings enable us to move forward and advance the status of women throughout the world.
That the value of women be recognized in our families, our communities, our workplaces, our country and the world.
That we use our good ideas, our knowledge, our experience to promote the worth of women.
That we combine our strengths to move forward in peace, in serenity, and in love.
That women of all generations will do their part to achieve harmony and equality among all human beings.