No matter what your age, race or nationality, or whether you have lived in Prague for 1 day or 30 years, you can become a member of this many-fold association. In fact, you can even be male (but I must admit that there are not that many of those). The association was founded in 1991 and currently has over 350 members from over 35 different countries.
The International Women’s Association (IWAP) is entirely run by its members. For those who are new to Prague, it helps to make the transition into life here a lot easier, and for locals and expats, who have lived in the capital for a long(er) time, it offers the possibility for personal enrichment and making new friends.*
Every month, there is a myriad of activities, functions and events that IWAP members can attend. This includes playgroups for mothers with children, health & fitness classes, Czech and other language conversation sessions, a gallery group, an evening group, a newcomers’ meet and greet lunch, a photography group, book club group and that is just to mention a few!
There is also another very important aspect to IWAP, and that is to help local charities and people in need. Each year, IWAP raises and donates thousands of crowns that help the disadvantaged, and volunteers are always sought to help in this area.
It is entirely up to you to decide how much or how little you can or want to participate in the organization but to have access to the association you first need to become a member. Annual membership costs 2000 CZK and will entitle you to receive a free copy of IWAP’s monthly magazine The Bridge, which gets sent directly to your letter box. This magazine is jam-packed with lots of articles and information about Prague as well as many other interesting topics. It also lists all of the events and activities that you can take part in during that 4-week period.
Personally, I have also found the ‘IWAP Marketplace’ (a forum for exchanging information with other group members via email) extremely useful. Even before I moved to Prague in 2005, I needed to find a good gyneacologist to take care of me during the 2nd half of my pregnancy. So, I sent a group email out through IWAP’s Marketplace and got more than 10 responses from other women in Prague, giving me incredibly useful tips and hints on the subject matter. The other day I was looking for a good place to dry-clean my husband’s leather jacket – and voila, several great recommendations came straight through!
Every second Tuesday of the month, there is General Meeting, which all members are most welcome to attend. Usually there is a special guest speaker who gives a talk (and sometimes a presentation as well), and at the end, the attendees also have a chance to meet and mingle with other IWAP members. If you are new to the organization, and would like to find out more, then this is a great time to come along (free-of-charge) to see what it’s like. You can also become a member by visiting the IWAP office in Vinohrady during office hours, or if you just wish to subscribe to the Bridge Magazine, you can simply send your Membership dues to the account number provided on the IWAP website.
If you have any old or read books, videos or CDs that you’d like to give away, then IWAP is always to take them on. Just drop them by at the office during the week before midday. You can then also browse through IWAP’s extensive library and at a nominal price, buy something which may tickle your fancy. Everyone is welcome to come. The great thing is that all money raised from the sale of ‘books and things’ from IWAP goes straight to charity.
Furthermore, The International Women’s Association is always keen to accept new volunteers. If charity work is not your thing, then there are plenty of other ways that you can help out and meet very interesting and dynamic people along the way. You might be able to offer assistance in the IWAP office or even lend a hand in other areas such as advertising, marketing, public relations. The Bridge Magazine is super if you want to learn about publishing or simply just to brush up your exiting skills! You might only have a little time to spare each week, but that will do, and you will be amazed how much you can gain out of it.
A few months after Albert was born, I became an IWAP volunteer and each Thursday, I helped Marketa, the Office Manager, for a few hours. I did a bit of filing, some accounting work, answered the odd phone call and did a few little jobs here and there. It was incredibly rewarding just being able to contribute in my small way and ‘relaxing’ to be able to unwind from my tasks as a mother at home. It also gave me the opportunity to meet a whole bunch of amazing and very talented women in the process! So, volunteering at IWAP is something that I can very much recommend!
It is also thanks to the International Women’s Association of Prague that this blog that you are currently reading, came into existence. When Albert was 6 weeks old, I attended an IWAP General Meeting where I met my friend Hiroko. Together we formed a small mothers’ group in Prague 8. Later, through another friend both Darina and Larissa joined this group with their children, and then a few short years after that Kids in Prague was born!
*The International Women’s Association of Prague in Its Own Words: IWAP is an independent, non-political, non-profit organization voluntarily run by its members. IWAP welcomes all women who live in the Czech Republic. IWAP aims to promote friendship among its members and also seeks to raise funds for the benefit of selected charities within the Czech Republic. IWAP is a member of Open Door - an international association of 70 groups throughout the world.
OPEN: Mon-Fri: 9am-12noon, except Czech Public Holidays and the dates of the General Meetings
DIRECTIONS: By Metro: Green Line A to Namesti Miru and then trams 4,10,16 or 22 for one stop alighting at Jana Masaryka. As you get off the tram walk down to the first street on your right. The IWAP office is in-side a regular residential block, on the right-hand-side. You will see a small IWAP plaque and will have to ring the intercom to be let in. By Car: paid, metered parking is available on Polska Street (perpendicular to Trebizkeho Street).
FURTHER INFORMATION: http://www.iwa-prague.com
HOW TO BECOME A MEMBER: Anuual Membership is 2000 CZK and can be paid in cash or by bank transfer. You can become a member in one of the following ways: 1. Attend the monthly General Meeting (held every 2nd Tuesday of the month). OR 2. Register in person at the IWAP office during office hours. OR 3. Fill out a registration form on the IWAP website.