Wen, the Women’s Environmental Network, was founded by Bernadette Vallely in 1988 to offer a different way of thinking and acting on environmental issues. 

Bernadette recognised that the environmental movement often overlooked the perspectives and voices of women.

To answer this imbalance Wen established an approach that brought gender-sensitive issues to the forefront and continues this revolutionary method today.

Bernadette Vallely set up the first Wen office in Islington, London in 1988 and was quickly joined by her ex Friends of the Earth colleagues, Francesca Reynolds and Alison Costello.

A public appeal to women across Britain attracted the early support of several well-known names including Anita Roddick, Peggy Seeger, Joan Ruddock, Diana Schumacher and Carol Tongue. They sent money in support and lent their names to attract other women to join and so Wen membership began! 

Within a short time the organisation also attracted Ann Link as a volunteer, who helped to create the Sanitary Protection Scandal book and campaign. Anita Roddick was one of Wen’s biggest funders and the organisation would not have thrived without her financial, practical and moral support. 

bernadette vallely, WEN founder 

Bernadette is a writer, broadcaster and environmental activist. She was the original founder and Director of Wen. Bernadette had previously worked at Friends of the Earth and the Anti Apartheid Movement where she learnt her campaigning skills and put them to good use. 

Wen was started by Bernadette in 1988, after she sold her house and used the proceeds to pay rent on an office in City Road, Islington. With a  base to work from Bernadette was joined by volunteers.

Over the years Bernadette has been instrumental in linking environmental problems with practical women’s action in the fields of consumer information and health.