WIZO was founded in Great Britain in 1920. The founders of WIZO, Rebecca Sieff, Dr. Vera Weizmann, Edith Eder, Romana Goodman and Henrietta Irwell, formed Wizo with the goal of serving the needs of women and children in the Land of Israel (Eretz Israel).
Under the guidance of Rebecca Sieff, three of the leaders visited Palestine and held discussions with a great number of women engaged in pioneering work in Palestine. They returned to London in 1919 with far sighted reports on the urgent necessities of the women and children in Palestine and plans for improving the prevailing conditions by establishing social and welfare services and institutions for the agricultural and vocational training of young girls.
Between 1921 to 1933, WIZO focused on upbuilding its work in Palestine and developing the Movement in the Diaspora.The years 1933 and during World War II witnessed the annihilation of Jewish communities in Europe and the dissolution of WIZO Federations in countries under the Nazi scourge. This was also the era when 19 new Latin American WIZO Federations were created. The first post war period was that of the resuscitation of WIZO Federations and groups in Europe.
In 1949, following the establishment of the State of Israel, the WIZO Head Office was transferred from London to Israel and Rebecca Sieff was elected 1st President of the World WIZO Movement. She served as President till 1966. She was followed by Rosa Ginossar who was elected Chairman of the World WIZO executive in 1951 and then President in 1966. In 1970, Raya Jaglom was elected President and served in this capacity till 1996. During her term of office, WIZO was established in the U.S. in 1981, in Hong Kong and in Budapest and Prague. During this period, WIZO was recognized as an N.G.O. with consultative status with Ecosoc and Unicef.In 1996, Michal Modai, former chairman of the executive of the Israel Federation and of the World WIZO Executive, was elected President of World WIZO. Helena Glaser, Chairperson of the WIZO Israel Federation, was elected Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive.