At its founding in 1904, the following principles were set down:
- That men and women are born equally free and independent members of the human race, equally endowed with intelligence and ability, and equally entitled to the free exercise of their individual rights and liberty.
- That the natural relation of the sexes is that of inter-dependence and cooperation, and that the repression of the rights and liberty of one sex inevitably works injury to the other, and hence to the whole race.
- That in all lands, those laws, creeds and customs which have tended to restrict women to a position of dependence, to discourage their education, to impede the development of their natural gifts and to subordinate their individuality, have been based upon false theories and have produced an artificial and unjust relation of the sexes in modern society.
- That self-government in the home and the State is the inalienable right of every normal adult, and the refusal of this right to women has resulted in social, legal and economic injustice to them, and has also intensified the existing economic disturbances throughout the world.
- That governments which impose taxes and laws upon their women citizens without giving them the right of consent or dissent, which is granted to men citizens, exercise a tyranny inconsistent with just government.
- That the ballot is the only legal and permanent means of defending the rights to the “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” pronounced inalienable by the American Declaration of Independence, and accepted as inalienable by all civilised nations. In any representative form of government, therefore, women should be vested with all political rights and privileges of electors.
In its daily work the IAW is further guided by the more recently declared Principles:
- Women’s rights are human rights.
- Human rights are universal, indivisible and interrelated.
The IAW affirms that full and equal enjoyment of human rights is due to all women and girls. The IAW maintains that a prerequisite to securing these rights is the universal ratification and implementation without reservation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
The importance and value of women’s contributions as equal partners has been acknowledged in numerous United Nations World Conferences held during the past decades.