KWAU is an umbrella organization affiliated by 7 chapters and 30 member organizations striving to achieve gender equality, democracy, and peaceful reunification in the Korean peninsula by facilitating solidarity and collective actions among women's groups since its establishment in 1987.
The progressive women's movements in Korea started in the early 1980's when women's organizations started emerge. Since the 1970's, women activists along with activists from other sectors including labor and student movement joined forces to confront discrimination and violence against women, while fighting for their own cause in each field.
The first accomplishment of the women's solidarity movement came in 1983 when diverse women's groups jointed forces to repeal the case regarding female telephone operators having to retire at the age of 25 years. Since then, women's organizations took joint actions through several special advocacy committees. Some of the examples include the sexual harassment against female university students committed by policeman in a police station in 1984, and the sexual torture case in 1985 involving a notorious policeman and a female labor movement activist. Under the circumstances, KWAU as a permanent women's umbrella organization had to form solidarity for the causes of women in February 1987.
KWAU has carried this spirit of solidarity from the beginning and stood at the forefront of women's struggles to address a number of issues concerning women. KWAU has successfully developed its strategies and agendas to meet the needs at times, leading to many victories. KWAU also accredited a Special Consultative Status form the United Nations in 2001.