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A Woman's Journey in Freemasonry - A Special Feature for International Women's Day

In honor of International Women's Day and to gain deeper insights into women's Freemasonry, its historical background, and its relevance in contemporary times, we engaged in a conversation with Elizabeth Porter, an experienced Freemason and Grand Steward at The Order of Women Freemasons.

A gathering of the Order of Women Freemasons
Members of the Order of Women Freemasons (Credits - The Order of Women Freemasons)

UGLE celebrates International Women’s Day and joins the journey to Inspire Inclusion worldwide.

Can women join Freemasonry? An age-old question and one that we often get asked here at UGLE. The answer – a big, loud yes!

Women Freemasons have been coming together and meeting across the country for well over a century. They have done this through two female-only Grand Lodges, The Order of Women Freemasons and HFAF - Freemasonry for Women. These Lodges mirror their male counterparts in both ceremonies and attire, and their members frequently collaborate on charitable endeavours within their communities.

Established in 1908, The Order of Women Freemasons is the oldest and largest Masonic organisation for women across the country. Open to women of all faiths and backgrounds over the age of 21, the Order upholds the same principles and practices as male Freemasons. Boasting over 4,000 members across 300 Lodges in the UK and beyond, they have members from all walks of life. Lodges meet at least four times a year, often organising charitable events and social gatherings to strengthen the bonds within their communities.

To celebrate this International Women’s Day and further understand women’s Freemasonry, its history and its role in the modern world, we sat down with Elizabeth Porter, an experienced Freemason and Grand Steward at The Order of Women Freemasons.


A Personal Journey in Freemasonry

Curiosity led Elizabeth into Freemasonry after seeing her husband's involvement and a friend's invitation. Despite not knowing what to expect, she found personal growth through learning rituals and a welcoming community of like-minded individuals.


Q: How did you discover Freemasonry? 

She said: I met my husband in 2002, who was a Freemason, but he never told anything about it to me. I remember seeing him dressed up in his morning suit, and I also saw his aprons and other regalia, but I didn't think much of it. 

In 2004, I made a new friend, and when we got together with our husbands, I found out that she was also a Freemason. She asked me if I wanted to join Freemasonry, and I thought to myself, why not? I could go along and see if I like it, and if I didn't, I wouldn't have to go again.

Q: Has your experience as a woman Freemason been different from what you expected?

She said: ‘I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I thought it was a group of women who came together to meet, socialise and raise some money for charity. 

After my Initiation, I thought, now I am a Freemason, let’s see what this is all about.’

Two members of the Order of Women Freemasons in their regalia


Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your journey in Freemasonry?

She said: ‘Self-development and improvement leading to being a better person. For instance, I never thought that I could learn and recite Rituals. However, by starting small, I gained confidence. When the time came to learn longer passages, I thought it was impossible, but I looked at others who had done it and decided to give it a try. To my surprise, I learned a whole page, and it felt fantastic. 

I was proud of myself for achieving something I thought was impossible. Becoming a Freemason has taught me a lot, and I feel that it has made me a better person. Meeting like-minded individuals has also been a great experience, and I've found them to be warm and welcoming.’


International Women’s Day and Women Freemasonry

In the world of women's Freemasonry, the core principle of equality shines brightly, welcoming everyone regardless of background, belief, or circumstance. To those curious about joining, the message is simple: if you're seeking personal growth, intrigued by ancient traditions, and eager to forge meaningful connections, Freemasonry could be the perfect fit for you.


Q: How do the principles and practice of women’s Freemasonry align with the theme of International Women’s Day 2024 of Inspiring Inclusion?

She said: ‘When you join the Order of Women Freemasons, you become part of a brotherhood that values equality and never discriminates based on race, religion , age, or social status .’

Q: What message do you have for other women who might be curious about Freemasonry but unsure if it's right for them?

She said: ‘Freemasonry may not be suitable for everyone, but if you are looking to improve yourself as a human being, have the time and interest to learn the Ritual (which can be done even if you think you can't), and want to participate in Ceremonies where you can learn ancient traditions and make new friends, then Freemasonry might be the right fit for you.


Women Freemasonry in the Modern World

Despite ongoing challenges and misconceptions, women's Freemasonry offers a sanctuary of support and friendship amid today's hectic pace. The vision for its future entails growth, wider acceptance, and a deeper appreciation of its timeless principles in an evolving society.


Q: What are the challenges and misconceptions that women's Freemasonry still faces today?

She said: ‘Unfortunately, women with babies and young children are still considered their primary carers, and they, therefore, need the support of their partners, family, and friends to have the time to attend meetings and learn the Ritual.

It is worth noting that there are far more male Freemasons than female Freemaasons, and some people think that the Order of Women Freemasons is a networking facility that can benefit them in their work, which is not the case.

We also need to make people aware that the Order of Women Freemasons exists; despite the promotions we organise, many people are still unaware of the Order. 

Members of the Order of Women Freemasons meeting outside
 Members of the Order of Women Freemasons helping their communities (Credits - The Order of Women Freemasons)

Q: How does women's Freemasonry remain relevant and appealing to contemporary women?

She said: ‘In today's fast-paced and pressured society, time and friendship are often in short supply. We are expected to keep up with the demands of social media, work, and family commitments which can be overwhelming. However, the fraternity of fellow Freemasons can provide a sense of calm, order, and lifelong caring to each other. 

Our Ceremonies are profound, but outside of the Lodge, we organise social events and raise funds for charities. Through these activities, we enjoy fun, friendship, and a sense of belonging.’

Q: What kind of future do you envision for women's Freemasonry in the years to come?

She said: ‘Freemasonry is steeped in history and founded on principles of Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Service, which are still very relevant in today's world, creating an invisible and unbreakable bond that turns strangers into lifelong 'brothers.' I sincerely hope the Order continues to grow, attract new members, and become more accepted and understood by the general public.’


Held annually, International Women's Day serves as a global platform to celebrate women's rights. It sheds light on challenges related to gender equality, aiming to create a world free from prejudice and discrimination.

For more information and to find out how to join, you can visit the Order of Women Freemasons website.

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