Women play an important role, in Freemasonry, as in all other areas of life. While the opportunities for women to participate in Freemasonry are widespread and meet a variety of needs, from social interaction in the Orders for both men and women, to the unique needs met in the "women only" Masonic-related organizations.
Historically, our Masonic jurisdictions have maintained a long-standing tradition of restricting membership in Freemasonry to men, based primarily upon the original all male stonemasons’ guilds during the Middle Ages.
However, since the moral and ethical values that Freemasonry encourages are universal and not gender-based, the fraternity took the progressive step in the middle 1800s, to create organizations that included women, so that men and women could share Masonic fraternalism. The Order of the Eastern Star, the largest of these Masonic-related groups was established in 1855, soon to be followed by such organizations as the Heroines of Jericho, The Lady Knights Templar and the Ancient Arabic Order of the Daughters of Sphinx. Many others exist even unto this day.
Our national Masonic-related youth organization for young women is the National Order of Sunbeams, which was founded in 1992 by ILL Dewell Davis 33 of Ohio. This appendant body works in conjunction with the National Order of Trailmasters (also founded by Bro. Davis). The Trailmasters and Sunbeams are both involved with local charities, community services, and educational programs which broadens the horizons of our young people and prepares them to become better men and women.
While many organizations in North America, both social and professional, base their membership on gender, the Masonic fraternity have found a dynamic way to forge male and female fraternalism to fulfill the unique interests and specific needs of our organizations and communities. Our Masonic jurisdictions have seen great opportunity and success with our female affiliations. We look forward to building even greater alliances with our female appendant bodies. Always remembering that these women represent the wives, mothers, widows, sisters, and daughters of Masons and according to Macoys’ Adoptive Rite Ritual, the immutable laws of freemasonry will not allow them to share in the grand mysteries of the Order. However, there is no reason why there should not be a society for them at every level of the fraternity which may enable them to have fraternal relationships, obtain assistance and protection and cooperate in the great labors of charity, education and human progress.
Concordant Branch: The National Order of Trailmaster, Inc.
Appendant Body: The National Order of Sunbeams
Concordant Branch: The General Grand Masonic Congress, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons
Appendant Body: The Supreme Chapter, Order of Eastern Stars
Concordant Branch: The Most Excellent Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter
Appendant Body: The Supreme Grand Court Heroines of Jericho, USA
Concordant Branch: The Supreme Encampment of Knights Templar
Appendant Body: The Supreme Grand Council of Lady Knights
Concordant Branch: The Imperial Grand Council, Ancient Arabic Order of Noble Mystic Shrine
Appendant Body: The Supreme Grand Court, Ancient Arabic Order of Daughter Of Sphinx
Concordant Branch: The United Supreme Council, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Masons
Appendant Body: The Supreme College, Rose of the Seven Seals (In Club Form)