The Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) is a right-wing nonprofit founded in 1992 primarily as an anti-feminist platform for promoting free market ideologies laced with anti-trans and homophobic rhetoric. IWF maintains four policy centers it calls: Economic Opportunity (usually anti-union), Progress and Innovation (which primarily defends business practices that harm consumers), the Education Freedom Center (pro-charter and “parents’ rights”), and the Independent Women’s Law Center (which “fights against gender ideology and other radical legal theories that… punish certain viewpoints”).
IWF produces podcasts and hosts a blog that regularly publishes anti-worker, anti-union, pro-charter school, and anti-ESG messaging. It also publishes guides with talking points on a number of issues, including How to Talk About ESG, which it refers to as “a leftist political agenda.” Its 501(c)(4) sister organization Independent Women’s Voice has produced a pamphlet titled ESG in 60 Seconds”.
In addition, IWF produces a “Takeaways” series that provides key talking points for pro-gun and pro-fossil fuel lobbies, among others. It created the anti-trans website The Women’s Bill of Rights, which won a $100,000 Innovation Prize from The Heritage Foundation in 2022. In presenting the award, Heritage applauded IWF for publishing such a “simple and sensible declaration on the biology of sex” and for defining “basic terms such as ‘woman,’ ‘female’ and ‘mother’ consistent with science and common public understanding.”
In November 2022, IWF Senior Policy Analyst Mandy Gunasekara, Board Chair Heather Higgins, and President Carrie Lukas spearheaded a coalition letter addressed to Republican leaders in Congress shortly after the GOP won a slight House majority in the midterms urging increased ESG oversight.
In December 2022, IWF endorsed the Eliminate Political Boycotts Act, a proposed piece of model legislation introduced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that would authorize state governments to blacklist corporations promoting either ESG or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives—or both.
On February 28, 2023, IWF announced its new Center for Energy and Conservation led by Gunasekara that will seek to “change the public discourse that has been largely defined by extremists using the environment as a tool to push bad ideas that make us poorer, more vulnerable, and sadly, don’t even deliver in terms of environment.”
On June 6, 2023, IWF’s Mandy Gunasekara testified at the joint House hearing on “ESG Part II: The Cascading Impacts of ESG Compliance,” claiming that “ESG is used by progressive activists to defund and constrain the growth of other politically-disfavored companies.”
Lukas is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex, and Feminism (2006). Executive Vice President Amber Schwartz came to IWF from The Heritage Foundation.
- Director of the Center for Energy and Conservation Mandy Gunasekara
- Board Chair Heather Higgins
- President Carrie Lukas
- Director of the Center for Economic Opportunity Patrice Onwuka
- Senior Fellow at SFOF’s Center for Economic Freedom & Fiscal Responsibility Carrie Sheffield
- Randolph Foundation: $4,826,418 (1999–2021)
- DonorsTrust: $4,524,975 (2010–21)
- Diana Davis Spencer Foundation: $3,853,000 (2008–21)
- Bradley Foundation: $1,720,000 (1998–2021)
- Donors Capital Fund: $1,665,000 (2012–16)
Note: IWF is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.
- Total Revenue: $5,163,003
- Total Expenses: $5,717,511
- Net Assets: $2,675,551
Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing
For more information, visit the IWF page on SourceWatch.