At IWF, we are committed to advancing women’s leadership globally and locally. We champion equality worldwide.
IWF's membership includes more than 7,000 diverse and accomplished women from 33 nations on six continents. We answer high-achieving women leaders’ need for a community of diverse thinkers. We are shaping a future in which leadership has no gender and the next generation is inspired and equipped to transform the world. And we won’t stop until we get there.
We inspire, elevate and enable female leaders by increasing their:
Expanding Leaders' Knowledge and Skills
Our international educational and leadership development experiences, including our Fellows Program and IWF Intensive program, build the knowledge, contacts and skills to address the world’s greatest challenges. These programs strengthen women’s capabilities for today and tomorrow. Through them, we invest in making women stronger, smarter and more influential.
Connecting Leaders for Excellence and Impact
This global network of innovative thinkers creates a powerful exchange built on trust. We convene different perspectives that inspire and increase imagination for what’s possible, most notably at our annual World Leadership and Cornerstone conferences. Our leaders are stronger and more effective than they would be individually, benefiting from the experience of outstanding peers from other industries, countries and generations.
Accelerating and Mobilizing Emerging Leaders
We cultivate leaders. We inspire, elevate and enable the next generation to carry on the work of transforming the world. These are the leaders of the future, and the responsibility to equip and empower them is more urgent than ever.
We believe that the intractable challenges we face can only be solved if women attain their equal place and status – if women share their diverse perspectives, contribute different styles of leadership and present new solutions only they can develop
We believe the potential for women is unlimited and opportunities should be, as well.
We believe an investment in women is an investment in the future
We believe that our power lies in our unity
We believe in transferring knowledge and momentum to the leaders of tomorrow to improve our world – to energize, demand and accelerate the imperative of change.
We connect and cultivate long-lasting friendships – we support each other in an environment built upon trust.
We elevate the next generation today to become leaders tomorrow.
That’s why we champion equality.
The story of the International Women’s Forum began when Elinor “Elly” Guggenheimer – chair of the New York City Planning Commission – went to a meeting in Philadelphia. When she arrived, she was told that the only women allowed in the building were waitresses and maids. Determined to participate, Elly found a maid’s uniform, put it on and took her rightful place at the table. At that moment, she knew something had to change.
In 1974, Elly established the organization that grew to become IWF. She had three partners in this endeavor: Muriel Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange; Eleanor Holmes Norton, now Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives representing the District of Columbia; and Muriel Fox, one of the first female public relations executives and founder of NOW.
Their stated goal: “Bring together women of diverse accomplishments and provide them with a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences.”
At the time, women were just beginning to break into the highest levels of leadership. One woman ascended the Fortune 500 list with the first female CEO as another woman was about to scale Mount Everest.
Today, we are those CEOs and mountain climbers. We are Nobel Laureates and sports legends; entrepreneurs and film stars; astronauts, prime ministers and presidents.
We support the emerging leaders of tomorrow who will achieve breakthroughs that cannot yet be imagined.
After nearly 50 years, we continue to bring together the world’s most high-achieving women. We connect and promote more than 7,000 leaders across 33 countries around the world. We are truly global.
We have also elevated more than 500 international Fellows – society’s rising stars – to accelerate the potential of the next generation and to lead the world tomorrow.