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Independent Women's Forum

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The Independent Women's Forum (IWF; not to be confused with the International Women's Forum) is an anti-feminist organization predominately funded by conservative U.S. foundations. On its website it describes its mission as being "to rebuild civil society by advancing economic liberty, personal responsibility, and political freedom. IWF builds support for a greater respect for limited government, equality under the law, property rights, free markets, strong families, and a powerful and effective national defense and foreign policy."[1]

An article by Sally Patel in IWF's "scholarly" magazine, The Women's Quarterly, stated that "the battered women's movement has outlived its useful beginnings."[2]

In October 2003, the IWF announced an affiliation with Citizens for a Sound Economy, now the Americans For Prosperity Foundation, with which they shares premises and staff. "The Affiliation agreement provides for staff and resource sharing between Americans for Prosperity and the Independent Women's Forum. Nancy Pfotenhauer, president of the Independent Women's Forum, will also be president of Americans for Prosperity," the announcement stated. Despite sharing staff and location, the announced stated that each group "will be a separate organization with its own board of directors."[3]

As of 2008, IWF is no longer affiliated with AFP and is seeking its own office space.



Founded by Rosalie Gaull (Ricky) Silberman in 1992, the IWF grew out of the ad hoc group, Women for Judge Thomas.

While claiming to challenge "radical feminists," IWF primarily targets mainstream feminists and feminist organizations, as exemplified by such figures as Hillary Rodham Clinton and such groups as the American Association of University Women.

IWF is a secular counterpart to Religious Right women's groups like Eagle Forum and Concerned Women for America, but these groups often work together. People for the American Way describe IWF as a group that "opposes affirmative action, gender equity programs like Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act."[4]

IWF members include academic women who are paid to write papers that denigrate the idea of equity for girls and women in education. One of these papers,[1] by Judith Kleinfeld, a professor of psychology at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, has questioned an MIT study[5] on discrimination against women in MIT's science department, calling their findings "junk science."

IWF's constantly-updated web site shows an ever expanding sphere of concerns, all viewed from right-wing perspectives.

In October 2004 the Feminist Majority Foundation has objected to the U.S. Department of State's decision to award part of a $10 million grant to IWF for "leadership training, democracy education and coalition building assistance" to women in Iraq. The funding was from the Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative.[6]. IWF will be working in Iraq with the American Islamic Conference and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a think tank with neoconservative ties.

IWF's head Michelle Bernard has now re-emerged at the head of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy. The Bernard Center's website lists no donors, no history and no contact information other than a PO box in Potomac, Maryland. Analysts from the Bernard Center have written about 'misguided' food and nutrition policy, and the need for more charter schools.

Efforts to Eradicate Teaching of Global Warming from Schools Nationwide

In May, 2010 IWF started supporting a group called Balanced Education for Everyone whose goal is to stop the teaching of global warming in U.S. schools. The group calls global warming "junk science," and claims teaching it scares children unnecessarily. The group started its national effort at a meeting of the Mesa County, Colorado District 51 School Board, where it presented the board with a petition containing 600-700 signatures of people who want global warming instruction stopped. [7][8]


Media Transparency lists IWF as having received $7,651,000 in foundation grants between 1994 and 2006.Funders include:[9]

At the time of its resource sharing announcement with Americans for Prosperity in October 2003, IWF stated that "we had come through a difficult transition a few years ago and were really hitting our stride after getting a major, million-dollar grant."[3]

According to the group's 2006 Annual return[10] filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the total revenue

  • 2002: Revenue $2,582,437
  • 2003: Revenue $205,143
  • 2004: Revenue $1,045,983
  • 2005: Revenue $$948,953
  • 2006: Revenue $1,816,131; Expenses $1,964,833 Loss $105,067



Board of Directors

Directors Emeritae:

Contact details

Independent Women's Forum
1726 M Street, NW
Tenth Floor
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 419-1820
Email: info At


  1. "Our Mission", Independent Women's Forum, accessed February 2008.
  2. Sally Patel, "It's Always His Fault: Femininist Ideology Dominates Perpetrator Programs", The Women's Quarterly, Independent Women's Forum, Summer 1997 - Number 12.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Independent Women's Forum, "IWF Announces Exciting New Partnership", Media Release, October 28, 2003. (This is a copy archived in the Internet Archive, accessed March 2008.
  4. People for the American Way, "Fighting the Right: The Right-Wing Affiliations of Bush Administration Officials: Appendix - Right Wing Groups", undated, accessed March 2008.
  5. "A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT", Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1999.
  6. Independent Women's Forum, "IWF Awarded Grant to Support Iraqi Women", Media Release, September 28, 2004.(This page is archived in the Internet Archive).
  7. Nancy Lofholm Push to teach "other side" of global warming heats up in Colorado's Mesa County Denver Post, May 26, 2010
  8. Emily Anderson Petitions target ‘political’ leanings of teachers Grand Junction, Colorado Daily Sentinel, May 26, 2010
  9. "Independent Women's Forum", MediaTransparency, accessed March 2008.
  10. Independent Women's Forum, "2006 Annual Return", page 1 and Scheule a Page 4.

Related SourceWatch Articles

External Articles

  • Elinor Burkett, The Right Women: A Journey Through the Heart of Conservative America, Scribner, ; ASIN: 0684833085, March 1998. (This book looks at the IWF, as well as other conservative women's groups).
  • IWF heads down the toilet, Alas a Blog, November 28, 2003.
  • Feminist Majority Foundation Online, "State Department Funds Anti-Women's Rights Group To Train Iraqi Women", Feminist Daily News Wire, October 5, 2004.
  • Independent Womens Forum, "IWF Awarded Grant to Support Iraqi Women", September 28, 2004.
  • Ronnee Schreiber, Righting Feminism: Conservative Women and American Politics, Oxford University Press, June 2008. ISBN 0195331818 ISBN 978-0195331813
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