Inspiring Women February 2023

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feature<br />

A Club Inspires:<br />

AWC Antwerp<br />

Tharien van Eck – Chair of<br />

the Target Program (Health,<br />

2019-2022), Chair of the<br />

Selection Committee for the<br />

Target Program (Environment,<br />

<strong>2023</strong>-2025), member of the<br />

Global Issues Health and<br />

Human Rights teams and<br />

AWC Antwerp's FAWCO Rep –<br />

introduces us to her city and<br />

AWC Antwerp, one of four<br />

clubs in FAWCO’s Region 4.<br />

Celebrating 85 years at the Antwerp City Hall<br />

Founded in 1928, at a time when there<br />

were few American organizations in<br />

the city, the American <strong>Women</strong>’s Club<br />

of Antwerp was typical of its sister<br />

organizations in other European capitals.<br />

Membership was open to United States citizens<br />

or non-American women married to Americans<br />

and it offered opportunities for women to share<br />

common interests, broaden outlooks, extend<br />

knowledge, and provide community service.<br />

The motto of the club is “May we never be hasty<br />

in judgement and always generous.” In 1931,<br />

the American <strong>Women</strong>’s Club of Antwerp was a<br />

founding member of the Federation of American<br />

<strong>Women</strong>’s Clubs in Europe (later called FAWCO)<br />

formed by seven clubs: London, Antwerp, Paris,<br />

Berlin, The Hague, Vienna, and Zurich.<br />

Membership in the American<br />

<strong>Women</strong>’s Club of Antwerp<br />

fluctuated with global trends.<br />

By 1935, the membership had<br />

dropped from around 40 women<br />

to just 23, most probably due to the departure<br />

of Americans from Europe during the Great<br />

Depression. Then, in 1939, World War II began,<br />

and the club fell idle. Most American families<br />

were evacuated from Antwerp in the fall of 1939,<br />

but about ten years later the population began<br />

to grow again.<br />

What does your current membership look like?<br />

We currently have almost 100 members from<br />

numerous countries, a truly global organization.<br />

Many of our members hold dual passports, due<br />

to marriage or long-term residence in the EU/<br />

Belgium. We have an active group of Belgian and<br />

Dutch members who keep us well connected<br />

with the local community. Many of these ladies<br />

are former expats themselves, having returned<br />

to Belgium or the Netherlands after postings<br />

abroad. Also, in contrast to the wife/mother<br />

expat of previous decades, many international<br />

women who relocated to Antwerp are now<br />

working full time. With social media, online<br />

communities, and the ease of finding<br />

The Brabo<br />

Fountain is<br />

located in the<br />

Grote Markt of<br />

52<br />

Antwerp.<br />


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