The International Women’s Forum (IWF) is a global organisation of preeminent women of significant and diverse achievement who come together across national and international boundaries to share knowledge and ideas, enrich lives, provide a network of support and exert influence. Furthermore, through its Leadership Foundation, the IWF helps prepare future generations of women leaders.
With forums throughout North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, the IWF facilitates networking among women of achievement and promotes opportunities for women in leadership. Founded in 1982 in the United States, the IWF has grown across five continents into 26 nations and 60 affiliated forum locations and currently has a membership of over 5 000 women leaders. Through international programmes, conferences, galas, symposia, communications, publications and special functions, members are able to meet, experience and exchange ideas and goals – some of which influence industry, shape economies and define government policies worldwide.
The International Women’s Forum of South Africa (IWFSA) was established in 2000 when its patron, Mrs Zanele Mbeki, together with a group of woman leaders, set up a South African chapter of the IWF. IWFSA currently has some 70 members drawn from government, business, the sciences, the arts and numerous other areas.
The IWFSA members, who are at the top of their fields of endeavour and who have nationally and internationally identifiable track records, enjoy unique networking opportunities through local and international conferences, workshops, meetings and forum events and strive to be “the voice” for women in South Africa and the continent by influencing opinion and advocating for women’s issues at the highest levels of government, business and civil society.
IWFSA’s Vision is to educate, empower, nurture and mentor the next generation of women leaders in South Africa. This is done through various leadership initiatives, one of which it runs in partnership with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), the GIBS/IWFSA Strategic Leadership Programme (SLP). The Programme has operated since 2002 and to date 180 young Fellows have passed through it and have moved on to hold positions of influence and top management in their various organisations. IWFSA and GIBS are currently redeveloping the Programme to add new focus to its outcomes. The new Programme will be launched in mid 2012.
The Young Leaders Connect (YLC) is another IWFSA initiative. It was established in 2010 as a networking platform for young women leaders, many of whom will become Fellows of the SLP. This is a new platform that emerged from the Executive Development Roundtable hosted by IWFSA to promote ongoing sharing and networking by establishing a link between young women leaders in South Africa and their counterparts in the United States and the Bahamas.