Leading article: Wonder women

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The Independent Online

As usual, the Women's Institute is leading from the front. In recent years, the institute has taken a strong stance on a range of issues ranging from climate change to healthy eating to fair trade. And, of course, packaging. Plans appear to be afoot for another "day of action" in which Women's Institute members will be encouraged to return excess packaging to the supermarkets.

Food has always been close to the WI's heart. The organisation was founded in the First World War in the belief that women in rural areas could play an important role in the production and preserving of food as part of the war effort.

The WI's values have not changed. But society's attitudes to it have. What was once seen as a rather staid and conservative institution is now beginning to be recognised as one of the most progressive campaigning forces around.