Young conservative women have an organization to call their own. The Network of Enlightened Women (NeW) held its fourth annual conference at the Heritage Foundation on June 26, 2009.
Karin Agness, a University of Virginia law school graduate and the founder of NeW, said that the organization serves a two-fold purpose: first, as a book club, which provides a “structural and educational component,” and second, as a network to “cultivate a community of conservative women.”
Agness says that NeW women are different from their liberal counterparts because they believe the radical feminist agenda has “gone too far.” The NeW woman “embraces femininity and modesty” rather than succumb to a “victim ideology.”
Keynote speaker and political pundit Kate Obenshain called Agness an “inspiration.” Asserting that “diversity is very narrow” on college campuses when it comes to conservative groups, Obenshain encouraged conference attendees to “bring in conservative speakers” to articulate a different point of view. Obenshain said that NeW should continue to “stimulate discussion” on college campuses and open young women’s minds to the possibility that “there may be another way.”
“Young women face challenges different from their male counterparts,” Obenshain said, citing having a family and remaining in the workforce as important concerns. Calling these concerns “legitimate,” Obenshain said there a “lot of options” for today’s woman, including telecommuting and home-based businesses.
Obenshain feels she was not “giving anything up” by staying home to raise her children, calling it the “hardest job she’s ever had” but “by far the most rewarding.”
Saying that “accomplished and successful” women in the conservative movement need to be recognized, Obenshain pointed to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as an example. The initial response to Palin “terrified the left,” Obenshain said, because Palin has “chosen a traditional path with grace.”
Obenshain said that it was “unconscionable” for the feminist movement to be silent on Palin. Calling the silence on the part of such groups “hypocrisy,” Obenshain said that conservative women “have a right to righteous indignation” about the agenda these organizations promote.
The Republican Governor announced her resignation earlier this month, partially attributing this choice to her children’s feelings and what she called the “mock[ing]” and “ridicule[ing]” of her son Trig, who has Down Syndrome.
Above all, Obenshain said that every young woman must remember her “inner beauty” and celebrate the fact that they have a unique role in the world. “Never stop being the ladies that you are,” Obenshain encouraged attendees. “Be the woman that God created you to be.”