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    The first branch of the International Women’s Forum was founded in New York in 1982. Two intrepid women, Elinor Guggenheimer and Eleanor Holmes Norton, felt the need for a networking vehicle for senior women leaders. They started in New York and the group spread across the United States and then around the world. Today, IWF is a world-class leadership association of global importance providing access, information, leadership exchange and development for women on issues of international concern.

    In Canada, Patricia Gabel, who was already a member of the Vermont Forum, founded IWF Canada in Montreal in 1995 along with Micheline Bouchard as well as founding members Diane Bussandri, Mary Larson, Lucie Pepin, Dorothy Reitman, Michèle Thibodeau-Deguire and Mackie Vadacchino. These women leaders provided important early assistance in the formation of the IWF in Canada as, through their networks and professional associations, it soon spread across the country.

    Through IWF, members come together across national and international boundaries to share knowledge and ideas, to enrich each other's lives, to provide a network of support and to open possibilities for the next generation of women leaders. The purpose of the organization is to provide a supportive forum for women leaders to meet amongst their peers where meaningful friendships and alliances can grow. Membership is comprised of the world’s women leaders from diverse fields of endeavours ranging from government, corporations, business, academia, science, philanthropy, sports and the arts. Membership is by invitation. (see www.iwforum.org).