A national women's Australian football competition, organized by the AFL, began in 2017. The first competition was played in February and March which included four teams from Victoria and one each from Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. Since then the league has expanded to include 18 teams. An AFLW player combine and draft is held each year. See the list of grand final winners.
For the first season, there were eight teams, four from Victoria, and four from other states. The Victorian contingent comprised Carlton, Collingwood, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs. The non-Victorian teams included Fremantle, Adelaide, Brisbane Lions and Greater Western Sydney.
The other clubs that applied to be part of the inaugural season were granted provisional licences to be part of an expanded women's league in the future. These teams were Richmond, Geelong, North Melbourne, St Kilda, and the West Coast Eagles.
After some exhibition games in 2016, the inaugural season was held over eight-weeks in February and March 2017. The competition featured six home-and-away rounds, with the top four playing two semi-finals and a Grand Final.
The initial season included eight teams, four from Victoria (Carlton, Collingwood, Melbourne, Western Bulldogs) and four non-Victorian teams (Fremantle, Adelaide, Brisbane Lions and Greater Western Sydney). This was increased to 10-teams in 2019 with the addition of Geelong Cats and North Melbourne.
Four more teams were added to the league for the 2020 season — Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast — meaning the AFLW grew from eight teams to 14 in four years. The 2020 season was concluded prematurely with no premiership being awarded.
Four more clubs, Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, and Sydney, were granted entry into the competition in the 2022 season. The competition now includes the same 18 teams involved in the men's national AFL competition.