The Women's Hockey World Cup is the field hockey World Cup competition for women, whose format for qualification and final tournament is similar to the men's. It has been held since 1974. The tournament has been organised by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) since they merged with the International Federation of Women's Hockey Associations (IFWHA) in 1982. Since 1986, it has been held regularly once every four years, in the same year as the men's competition, which is mid cycle between Summer Olympic games.
Of the twelve tournaments held so far, only four teams have won the event. Netherlands is the most successful team, having won the title six times. Argentina, Germany and Australia are joint second best teams, having each won the title twice. So far, Netherlands and Australia are the two champions able to defend their titles. At the end of the 2006 world cup, fourteen nations had reached the semifinal of the tournament.
There has been no limitation on the size of the competition. The 1974 and 1978 World Cups featured 10 nations (smallest); the 1976 World Cup featured 11 nations; the 2002 World Cup featured 16 nations (largest); the remaining seven World Cups have featured 12 nations. It was announced that the World Cup will expand to 16 teams for the 2018 editions, and that it will be evaluated the possibility of increasing it to 24 in 2022.1