In 1968, the WBG was expanding, with new families arriving at a rate of fifty per month. These families faced difficulties with language and culture, and they struggled with the practicalities of living in a new environment. All too often spouses faced these challenges alone while their husbands traveled overseas on missions.
A few women with a will, a vision and courage entered the picture: they recognized a need and pushed for a solution. In January 1972, they wrote a letter to then President Robert Mr. McNamara, who sent his positive response a week later, and WIVES (Women's Information and Volunteer Services) was born. WIVES gained an office, and a budget of $2,000. The response was overwhelming. Within weeks over 300 women volunteered with the newly founded organization.
Our organization has changed significantly since 1972. Our name, our services and the gender balance of our members have all evolved in response to the changing roles of women in society, especially in the workplace, and the changing needs of our members. Our mandate, however, remains as relevant as ever: to welcome, support and advocate on behalf of WBG families worldwide
In 1981 the Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund was born. Margaret McNamara contributed significantly to the establishment and growth of WIVES. Upon her premature death, two WIVES members honored her memory with the creation of a grants program for women from developing countries to help further their education and strengthen their leadership skills.
In 1982 the WIVES Book Project was established. The project mobilizes volunteers, who collect books in the DC Metro area, and sends them to needy institutions in developing countries.
In 1991, the first Memorandum of Understanding between the World Bank’s HR VP and the President of WBVS was signed. It defined basic issues such as insurance coverage, areas of responsibility and financial coverage from the Bank and marked a milestone of recognition for WBVS from Bank Management.
In 2004 a second Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the WBFN, and the Bank’s HR VP. This memorable event marked the continuing understanding between the World Bank and WBFN. It acknowledged the work done by WBFN volunteers in helping, supporting and assisting World Bank Group spouses and families. It recognized the importance of the activities and programs of WBFN for the general welfare of the WBG and its staff. The WBG released a Communiqué about the MoU.