Friday, November 21, 2014

True Leaders Who Are Serious, Committed to Liberty and the Promise of True Feminism, and Who Accomplish Great and Important Things 



(Washington, D.C.) – The Independent Women’s Forum Board of Directors honored The Honorable Marsha Blackburn and human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali with IWF’s Barbara K. Olson Woman of Valor Award for their courage and commitment to women, personal liberty, and political freedom. The awards were presented at the Women of Valor Gala, held Wednesday evening, November 19, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Kicking off the evening IWF’s executive director Sabrina Schaeffer welcomed the sold-out ballroom, “I look around this beautiful hall and see colleagues, supporters, board members, mentors, friends, as well as many new faces – all of whom have had a profound impact on the growth and formation of the Independent Women’s Forum. Together we have built something incredible over the last few years.”  

The more than 250 guests in attendance included: Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), Amanda Faulker, Megan Mercer, and Mary Elizabeth Taylor from the office of Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, Mattie Duppler from the office of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dan Lips from the office of Sen. Tom Coburn, Karen Summar from the office of Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Dick and Mary Beth Weiss, Betsy Fisher, CNN’s Chris Moody, Erin McPike, Cassie Spodak and Alexandra Jaffe, Fox News Channel’s Kimberly Schwandt, Townhall’s Katie Pavlich and Guy Benson, Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein and Ashe Schow, Daily Mail’s Francesca Chambers, PBS’ Cari Stein, WMAL’s Heather Smith, and a number of other media, IWF supporters, and luminaries from Washington’s policy and think-tank community.

Following a conservative midterm victory where Americans rejected identity politics and the Left’s women-as-victim rhetoric, Schaeffer told the audience that, “After a long period of frustration, and for many people despair, about the direction of our nation, I think it’s safe to say most in this room tonight are feeling cautiously optimistic about the future.” She warned, “There is so much work to be done.  After all, the Progressive movement did not make its gains with women overnight – or, by accident.” And she explained how the Independent Women’s Forum is doing extraordinary work to educate women and independents and is “helping to win the battle of ideas.”


IWF Chairman Heather R. Higgins explained the significance of the Woman of Valor award – given to honor the memory of Barbara K. Olson, an IWF founder, who perished in the September 11th attack on the Pentagon – as an honor to women who are serious, committed to liberty and the promise of true feminism, and who accomplish great and important things.

Higgins said, “Tonight we honor Representative Marsha Blackburn, a woman who would be only too happy to explain to Mrs. Clinton that people organize together to constitute corporations and businesses, and as such do indeed create jobs.  And we honor Ayaan Hirsi Ali, someone who’s survived a real war against women, not some trivialized travesty of the concept, and knows it’s not about getting free prescriptions.”

Ms. Lisa Gable, newly elected IWF board member, and Mr. Daniel Schmidt, vice president at The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, introduced this year's Woman of Valor recipients.

Gable hailed Congressman Marsha Blackburn’s career as a “testimony to our changing gender roles and the tremendous accomplishments women have made in recent decades.” Gable also noted that, as as “a mother, a grandmother, a business owner, a political leader, an author, Marsha is the definition of a modern feminist.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn was honored and humbled to accept the Woman of Valor award named after the late Barbara Olson: “I knew [Barbara] from afar.  Seeing her on TV, reading comments, seeing her speak at a conference, she was inspiring.  How blessed we are to have such women who are so committed to the cause of freedom and free people. The relentless, passionate demeanor of someone like Barbara Olson is worthy of honor. Thank you for continuing to remember her. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to associate my name and work with hers and with the other outstanding women who have received this honor.”

Speaking in detail about heroism and valor, Rep. Blackburn said, “Women are not willing to see opportunity for their children and hope for the future compromised by a bureaucratic government.” Adding that “[w]omen are in this fight for both long term and with a long term view.” Blackburn applauded the Independent Women’s Forum for its work to “nurture, prod, stimulate conversation and validate the views that are shared by thousands of women across this country.” Adding that IWF inspires women around the globe and provides a “gathering spot in the battle of ideas for women to seek information, to come together to defend their individual rights and to prepare to take action to defend their beliefs.”


Schmidt praised Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a “dignified recipient” and said that like Barbara Olson, “Ayaan does not consider human life as an instrument placed in the service of advancing an ideology.” Schmidt paid tribute to Hirsi Ali’s life saying it “presents a dramatic testimony of one woman’s intellectual honesty and moral courage, fearlessly taking on challenge after challenge regardless of the physical and psychological circumstances.” He said that no matter the seriousness of the trial, “Hirsi Ali has always maintained her dignity.”

Human rights activist, wife, and mother Ayaan Hirsi Ali closed out the evening with powerful, thought-provoking remarks about the struggle girls and women face around the globe, taking back feminism, and she expressed her gratitude to the Independent Women’s Forum for broadening the scope and staying true to the motto that “All Issues are Women’s Issues.”

Hirsi Ali described her childhood struggles in Somalia, “I come from a culture and background and I spent my youth in an environment where everything and absolutely everything reminded me of being a woman, being female, and being inferior.” She detailed arguments over education that her parents had and how she couldn’t leave the home without permission and the escort of a male guardian.

Hirsi Ali describes herself as a feminist, a “grateful and vicious feminist.” And told the audience that we must fight against and extinguish the real war-on women.

After coming to the West, Hirsi Ali said the greatest thing about America was the idea that, “We are individuals. We are individual girls with our different characters, with our likes and dislikes. And before you assume the collective, assume the individual.”

Detailing early feminists’ victories, Hirsi Ali condemned what some women are now doing with the victory as “trivial bullshit,” and said we must “reclaim and retake feminism from our fellow idiotic women” and stand up and give them opposition. In closing she said the best way to fight the evil is to “stand up to horrific ideas, unite and beat them.”


Previous award recipients include Lynne Cheney, Fmr. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Fmr. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Nancy Brinker, Fmr. Rep. Mary Bono, and R. Gaull (Ricky) Silberman.



Independent Women's Forum works to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free-markets and personal liberty. 

Victoria R Coley
Director of Communications
Independent Women's Forum |
443.758.6077 | [email protected]