Who we are

The Hanoi International Women’s Club (HIWC) is a non-profit, non-religious and non-political group run entirely by volunteers. It was founded in 1986 as a group of diplomatic women and became HIWC in 1991. HIWC is a modern, diverse and friendly group with over 300 members from more than 60 different countries. The HIWC attracts people of different ages and from all walks of life. Some of us are accompanying spouses or partners, perhaps taking a career break to bring up families, others are working or retired. Although the majority of people who join HIWC are still women, times are changing and we warmly welcome men.

HIWC’s objectives are:

  • To provide a support network and to foster friendship and mutual understanding between women (and men) of different nationalities.
  • To provide a forum in which members can identify and discuss common interests concerning their personal and professional lives.
  • To promote social, cultural and charitable activities among HIWC members and Vietnamese friends in Hanoi.

HIWC is a member of the Open Door Association of International Women’s Associations. http://www.opendoorworldwide.com/

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Our Team

The HIWC is governed by a Charter and run by a Board that is responsible for the group’s finances, policies and activities. Our current Board comprises President, Treasurer, Secretary, Communications Coordinator, Events Coordinator, Bazaar Coordinator, Community Coordinator, Membership Coordinator and Chair of the Community Aid Committee. The Board is assisted by Associate Board members including the Coffee Mornings Coordinator, Associate Communications Coordinator, Circle Groups Coordinator, Technical Support Coordinator and the Treasurer of the Community Aid Committee.


In a Club with a 30 year history, it’s important to know what happened in the past. It’s also important to keep in touch with longer term members and supporters, and show that although we are a modern and forward-looking group, we value the ideas and perspectives brought by people who know the club well. All our mentors are long standing members and/or supporters of the Club who have held Board, CAC or other important positions. In addition, they are all long term Vietnam residents. By appointing Mentors, we recognise and appreciate the contribution of long term supporters, and value their importance to the Club. Our current mentors are Gill Lever (Former HIWC president), Lia Garcia Halpin (Concordia School), Maeve O’Donovan (UNIS Hanoi), Stephanie Ralainarivo (Santa Fe Relocations) and Ulli Wingardh (UMA). Members can get in touch with Gill Lever, Lia Garcia Halpin, Maeve O’Donovan, Stephanie Ralainarivo and Ulli Wingardh by emailing contact@hanoi-iwc.com.

Previous HIWC Presidents

Gill Lever 2015 - 2017
Paulina Pineda 2013 - 2015
Tiffany Banner 2013-2014
Alexandra Topalian 2012 - 2013
Jessie Pushtokina (nee Richardson) 2009 - 2010
Diana Rudolph 2007 - 2009
Barbara Ali 2005 - 2007
Deborah Stevens 2009-2010
Rose 2003 - 2004
Rehana Potter 2002 - 2003
We think it’s important to remember our “head volunteer” and say thank you. President is a big and unpaid role but essential: a good leader sets the tone for our Club and enhances its reputation. If you have any further information about previous Presidents of HIWC, please let us know by emailing contact@hanoi-iwc.com.
Kate Ruddon

Kate Ruddon


Cristina Rodriguez

Cristina Rodriguez


Mel Harbinson

Mel Harbinson


Elaine Simpson

Elaine Simpson

Communications Coordinator

Piu Lahiri

Piu Lahiri

Community Coordinator

Lee Gatto

Lee Gatto

Membership Coordinator

Konstantina Kolovou

Konstantina Kolovou

Events Coordinator

Ha Angelet-Phan

Ha Angelet-Phan

Bazaar Coordinator

Karen Dunn & Kate Ruddon

Karen Dunn & Kate Ruddon

Community Aid Committee Co-Chairs

Community Aid Committee

The Community Aid Committee (CAC) reports to the Board and is responsible for selecting and monitoring the charitable projects funded by HIWC in the Hanoi area.

Visit CAC page


Our Activities and Events

All our activities and events are organised by volunteers. HIWC has a busy social calendar and we pride ourselves on offering a wide variety of activities for members and non-members. Please visit our Facebook page for more information.

Newcomers to Hanoi

If you are new to Hanoi, we hold a monthly Newcomers Coffee Morning where you will meet other people who have also recently arrived and get advice and support from HIWC members who have lived in Vietnam for a while. Our Newcomers coordinators understand what it is like to arrive in Hanoi for the first time and are motivated to help you settle into your new life here. This event is free to everyone and you are welcome to attend with no obligation to join HIWC.

If your first language is not English, please don’t be shy. If you let us know you are coming, we will try to find a member who speaks your language so they can support you at Newcomers Coffee Morning or other events.

For more information and to attend our next Newcomers Coffee Morning, please email newcomers@hanoi-iwc.com or refer to our Facebook page.

“Nite Owls” Monthly Evening Gatherings

We also organise a monthly evening “networking” event “Nite Owls” for working women and those who prefer evening get-togethers. This is a great way to meet other professional women. The events are usually free for members. The cost for non-members is VND 150,000. Members and non-members should refer to our Facebook page  for more information about the next Nite Owls gathering, or email niteowls@hanoi-iwc.com.

Monthly Coffee Mornings

We hold monthly Coffee Mornings at venues of interest in Hanoi. These are usually held on the second Thursday of every month. If you have time during the day, our Coffee Mornings are one of the best ways to get out of the house, meet and make friends and explore new places in Hanoi. This activity is free or a minimal cost for members and VND 100,000 for non-members. Members and non-members should see our Facebook page for more information about our next Coffee Morning, or email coffee@hanoi-iwc.com.


We hold functions and activities every four to six weeks between September and June, sometimes during the day or in the evening. Our events are intended to foster fun, friendship and new discoveries among members of the Club and with the community. Some events may also be fundraisers for charity. Recent activities include: a Lotus Tea Workshop, Christmas Lunch, Biking Excursion, and Pottery Making class. In May, we held our Annual General meeting in conjunction with an Auction Lunch, giving members and friends an opportunity to bid on many unique items and raising 39,000,000 VND or $1,700 USD for our charity partners. For more information about our fun events and activities, please see our Facebook page.

“Circle Group” Activities

Some of our members share their hobbies and passions with other members by organising “circle” or interest group activities, with support from the HIWC Board. Circle Groups currently include Film Club, Cooking Around the World, Mahjong, Dinner Club, Writer’s Circle and Book Clubs (one for native English speakers and one for non-native speakers). Circle Group activities are usually free, but may involve modest costs e.g. cooking course fees.

For more information, please refer to our Facebook or email circleactivities@hanoi-iwc.com.

Excursions to places of interest

HIWC organises excursions to places of cultural and historical interest in the Hanoi area, in partnership with a local travel agency. Some of our excursions are shared activities with other international women’s groups in Hanoi. Our Facebook page has more information or you can email excursion@hanoi-iwc.com.

Annual Charity Bazaar

HIWC organises an annual community event to raise funds for Vietnamese charities working in the Hanoi area and whose projects focus on empowering women and children in the areas of health, education and community development. For more information, please refer to our Annual Charity Bazaar page.


How to Join HIWC

Membership is open to women and men with foreign (i.e. non-Vietnamese) passports.*

The membership year is 1 September – 31 August and costs VND 600,000 (approximately US$30) per year or VND 300,000 for a half year from 1 March.  Members are asked to renew their membership for each year no later than 31 December.

Membership Benefits

HIWC members enjoy free or minimal cost entry to Coffee Mornings and Nite Owls gatherings, subsidised activities and events like the Christmas Lunch and Welcome Back Party, discounted excursions, our weekly “HIWC Happenings” newsletter, and other email information about our activities. Finances permitting, we also try to subsidise participation by members’ spouses and partners. Members also benefit from our Discount Scheme (click on the link below for full details).


You can join HIWC at any Newcomers Coffee Morning, monthly Coffee Morning or Nite Owls event, or by emailing membership@hanoi-iwc.com.

*Please note that this is to comply with a local regulation.

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How to Volunteer

We are always looking for people to help run the Club. If you are interested in volunteering on the Board or CAC, have an idea for a circle activity that you’d like to start, or would like to use your skills working on our Bazaar Team, please email contact@hanoi-iwc.com. We will be pleased to hear from you.