We know how you feel if you have just arrived from abroad or another part of Germany to live in Berlin for the first time because most of us were once in the same situation. Our members now represent more than 50 different nationalities.

Maybe you’re not sure where to live yet or how to find a good doctor or dentist. You probably need a support network in the city but maybe don’t speak much German. Or perhaps you are already living here and want to make more connections? We could be the perfect community for you. We organise the club ourselves, using English as our common language, and elect an executive committee of nine members once a year, normally at the spring Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Our Executive Committee 2024-2025

The current committee members reflect the international nature of the club. Sarah, Joan and Jo Anne are from the USA, Adriane, Leonie and Viola from Germany, Brigitte and Christine from Austria and Virginia was born in Caracas.


`When women get together we can do anything!´
Sharon Muller, BIWC co-founder

The Club was founded in 1992, three years after the fall of the Berlin wall, at a time when Potsdamer Platz – a flattened buffer zone between the east and west of the city – was starting to be rebuilt. It was a vibrant boom time, with Germans and non-Germans from all over the world arriving to live in the city.

“The greatest joy was the influx of new and exciting women. They were coming as a career move, joining their husbands or just to see for themselves what was happening.” writes club co-founder, Debra Engler.

In late 1991, Debra met fellow English woman Sharon Muller by chance while out shopping and, later chatting over a pot of tea, they discovered a shared concern that the existing women’s associations in Berlin were mainly only for the British, American and French communities, a legacy of the allied troops in the city after the war.

“It just simply didn’t meet the needs of women arriving from so many different nations.” writes Debra.

So in April 1992, they organised an open meeting at a friend’s house and were surprised to find over 80 enthusiastic women attended. The club was founded, and by October was applying for legal registration, welcoming its 100th member the following month.

The new club organised its first international trip to Holland the following year to meet members of The Hague International Women’s Club, which led to the BIWC’s affiliation with the International Women’s Association and the Open Door Association.

The BIWC was now part of an active worldwide network of women’s clubs similarly promoting international understanding and good will.

In 1994 the club adopted the motto `Come and Share our World.´ Today the BIWC is affiliated to around 80 clubs in 40 different countries.

The Club logo, the Gold Else, which can be found on the top of Berlin’s Siegessäule (statue of the Victoria) was chosen as a symbol of international, strong, creative and positive women from diverse walks of life.

Club Motto and Logo

Gold Else BIWC logo

In 1997, the club, which is a non-profit and non-political organisation, chose the Berlin women’s refuge Hestia Frauenhaus as the designated beneficiary should the Club ever be disbanded.

“It was still quite difficult for foreigners to find work in Berlin. The club offered members the chance to be active in the community and to use their skills for the benefit of others.” writes Deborah Robinson (Club president 1995 to 1997).

The club newsletter, first printed in 1992, was a lifeline for many women at a time when information was not so easily available. The paper version operated until 2013 when the high cost of printing and postage led to a new online e-newsletter. Members who mourned the loss of the printed version were comforted by the ensuing cut in the yearly membership fee from € 75 to € 55.

The new millennium has also seen the addition of a BIWC website and a public as well as a private Facebook page.

At the time, Dr. Elisabeth Binder wrote in one of Berlin’s prominent newspapers Der Tagesspiegel:

`The international community of the city is growing. But how do they find and get to know each other? As is so often the case, women have taken the lead. In this respect the Berlin International Women’s Club is one of the most successful organisations.´

Meet our members

Brigitte was born in Austria and was a book publisher as well as a computer specialist producing software for corporations. Her work included a lot of inter-continental travel which sparked a desire to find out more about the planet, its inhabitants, and its ecosystems. In her free time she loves travelling to remote outposts in the world such as Patagonia, Greenland, Iceland and Antarctica, and shares her findings through club presentations. “I love the way nature can always recover and come back – but maybe not in a way we humans can survive.” she says. “It makes you humble and makes you realise that nature is not there just for human use and entertainment”. She joined the BIWC in 2001 where she organises regular hiking activities for members to discover hidden green areas of the city and its surroundings.

Brigitte from Austria
BIWC Member Lucy Jacobs

Lucy returned to Berlin in May 1991 after having spent the summer 1990 in the city between her 3rd and 4th years at university. Two weeks after graduation, she was on the plane and has never looked back! She became a member in 1994, after hearing about the BIWC at the farewell activities for the US military base. Sue Williams, membership secretary at the time, was there promoting the BIWC and Lucy thought it sounded like an interesting Club to join. Although she was already established in Berlin and not actively seeking contact to the international community, she says “the Club did provide a wonderful opportunity to meet women from around the world.”

Lucy from the USA

Gill, a professional librarian from the UK, made several trips to Berlin to visit her married daughter before deciding, in 2020, to take up her daughter’s suggestion to come and live in the city. She started learning German, rented out her home in Devon, said goodbye to her book collection, and moved into an apartment near the Grunewald. “In the UK I was living in a small village so it was a big change moving to city life!”  she says. “I’m so glad I did though as it is a delight be near family and watch my grandson growing up.”
She joined a local church and the BIWC where she takes part in a variety of activities including visits to cultural and historical landmarks. “I’m learning so much about the city, meeting lots of great women and making new friends. Joining the club has really made it so much easier to establish myself here.”

Gill from UK

Sarah is from the USA and joined the BIWC in 2019 when she moved to Berlin. She is currently setting up workshops for schools and businesses on how to facilitate and thrive in multi-cultural situations. “It’s about grasping concepts of diversity, dealing with the unfamiliar and not dismissing other people just because they handle things differently.” she says. With a degree in Comparative Literature, and an MBA from the International School of Management in Paris, Sarah has been a teacher and school director in India, Africa, China and Europe as well as the USA. She also worked at the University of Minnesota successfully raising money to establish a Centre for Memory Research and Care. She is interested in doing charity support work with the BIWC and is currently the Club Secretary.

Sarah from USA