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.