About IWF France

Advancing Women’s Leadership Globally & Locally

The International Women’s Forum (IWF) is an invitation-only, membership organization comprised of more than 7,000 diverse and accomplished women from 35 nations on six continents.

IWF is member- and mission-driven. Its members are trailblazers, innovators, and pioneers united to advance women’s leadership globally and locally. Members include Fortune 500 executives, government leaders from the local to sovereign level, international nonprofit leaders, and luminaries from the academy, arts, and sciences.

Each year, IWF convenes two global conferences, which are unique gatherings of thought leaders brought together to examine critical issues of the day within a local context and through a women’s lens. There is no other organization in the world that continually assembles such an extraordinary network of women to exchange ideas, learn, inspire, and build better leadership for a changing world.

In addition to the annual conferences, IWF’s Leadership Foundation (LF) supports high-potential women through leadership development programs – the Fellows Program and the EY Women Athletes Business Network (WABN) Mentoring Program. IWF also provides intensive leadership training programs for women at ever stage of professional development through its Executive Development Roundtables.

IWF History

In 1974, civic leader and philanthropist Elinor “Elly” Guggenheimer was assigned by the mayor of New York City to travel to Philadelphia for a meeting. When she arrived in Philadelphia, she was told that the meeting was taking place in a men’s club and she wouldn’t be allowed to attend–the only women allowed in the building were maids. So, she changed into a maid’s uniform so she wouldn’t miss the meeting. After this experience, she came back and decided to start the Women’s Forum of New York with three other powerful women: Muriel Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange; Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is now Delegate to the United States 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. By thus becoming aware of their counterparts in all fields, and of mutual interests and attitudes, they can, when desired, speak in concert on issues confronting the total community.”

In 1982, the Forum expanded globally with the addition of the United Kingdom; and, in ensuing years, The Bahamas, Israel, Canada, Spain, and Sweden. The National Women’s Forum officially became the International Women’s Forum (IWF) in 1987.

In 1994, IWF members created the Leadership Foundation (LF), a charitable arm of IWF that supports the training and growth of emerging women leaders. The Fellows Program is its flagship initiative.

As it looks to the future, IWF will continue to prepare, unite, and inspire women leaders on a global scale and at a local level.