The story of CWU started in 1949. After the long period of stable growth followed, the school expanded student programs, academic services and the reputation for training women leaders under the administration of All-China Women's Federation.
Its predecessor is the New China Women's Vocational School founded in 1949 by revolutionary veterans such as Madam Soong Ching Ling, He Xiangning, Cai Chang, Deng Yingchao and Kang Keqing. Later it was renamed the Women Cadres' School of All-China Women's Federation. In 1984, it was promoted as the Administrators' College of All-China Women's Federation, the first adult women college of its kind in China. To meet the increasing demand for learning from women of all circles, its name was again changed into China Women Administrators' College in 1987. In 1993, the College was relocated and expanded, and in 1995 got the present name China Women's University, which was inscribed by Mr. Jiang Zemin, then General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and President of the People's Republic of China. The year 1996 saw its launch of undergraduate courses and the first enrollment of high school graduates. In February 2002, the Ministry of Education approved its transformation to a regular institution of higher learning offering bachelor degrees. In 2005, CWU successfully passed the academic level accreditation sponsored by the Ministry of Education.
Under the leadership of All-China Women's Federation and the guidance of the Education Ministry of China, CWU thoroughly applies a scientific outlook on development, so as to fit the needs of a socialist modernization drive. It's affiliated with the All-China Women's Federation, combined with its setting in the international city of Beijing, endows it with a vision beyond China. Upholding the motto of Virtus, Caritas, Scientia and Cultura. it adheres to the strategy of upgrading its position by its Stronghold Subjects, Qualified Faculty, Fruitful Scientific Research and Beautiful Campus Environment. CWU aims to infuse its students with such values as Self-esteem, Self-confidence, Self-support and Self-improvement, and prepare its graduates toward an all-around development in morality, intelligence, sports, aesthetics and labor, enabling them to flourish in different social surroundings. Armed with practical skills and community awareness, they will lead the advanced gender culture, and play a positive role in developing women's education, improving women's equality, and disseminating gender equality to women. CWU has played an important function in economic and social development, women's development, international exchange in women's field and intergovernmental diplomacy. Madam Chen Zhili, Vice-Chairperson of the National People's Congress and Chairperson of the All-China Women's Federation, put forward the mission statement in her speech at the Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of CWU: Work hard to turn CWU into a national centre for women's education research, women's theory research, women's leadership training, and international exchange on women's education, so as to serve better for the sustainable development of women's causes.