In 2020, we saw both tremendous opposition to and success by conservative women. 2021 is the year for conservative women to change common misconceptions and offer a new direction for the women’s movement.
Last year, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of women in America gaining the right to vote. Sen. Kamala Harris was elected to become the first female vice president of the United States. More women than ever were elected to serve in the 117th Congress, thanks in part to a double-digit increase in newly elected Republican women in the House. And Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed as the fifth woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, the first mother of school-aged children to do so.
For too long, the Left has tried to silence conservative women because they don’t adhere to their ideas. 2021 should be the year for conservative women to stand up confidently as representatives of women who effectively advocate for our principles.
While 2018 was deemed the “Year of the Woman,” it was actually the year of Democratic women. Of the 36 newly elected women in the House, 35 were Democrats. After the 2018 election, Republicans were left with only 13 female House members, down from 23 in the previous Congress. The 2020 election is a different story. In November, voters elected 30 Republican women to the House. Republican women won 11 of the 15 seats that flipped to Republicans. Now, there are 119 women in the House.
2021 could become the year of brave conservative women. We already have powerful examples.
While popular culture and liberal news outlets often discount or omit the opinions of conservative women, women would benefit from hearing a wider range of policy positions. In January, the Network of enlightened Women (NeW), of which I serve as president, interviewed Christina Bain on her incredible work combating human trafficking. Bain founded and directed the Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery programs at the Harvard Kennedy School and Babson College. Through these programs, she has led efforts to create data-driven public policy solutions to human trafficking.
During the interview, Bain observed that human trafficking isn’t a partisan issue: “It’s not something that is right or left. It’s about slavery. It’s about humanity. It’s about freedom. And I think it’s something that resonates with everyone. We see on a congressional level such bipartisan support for this.” On Feb. 18, NeW hosted Kay Coles James, the president of the Heritage Foundation, who shared great advice to young women about balancing priorities in life and suggested there are a lot of areas that women could come together on. As she put it, “We ought to be able to come together on education and getting rid of educational disparities in this country. We ought to be able to come together on access to healthcare and how to provide that in one of the best healthcare systems on the planet. We ought to be able to come together because we want to see our country protected with a strong national defense. I care about those issues. And those are women’s issues.”
Conservative women can and should lead the way on public policy. There are many issues women could join hands on—from fighting sex trafficking to improving education. Women could come together behind “opportunity feminism,” a version of feminism that seeks to maximize freedom for women to build the lives they want. There will not be unity on every issue. On divisive issues, conservative women must make their case strongly. But the key point is this: Liberal women shouldn’t unilaterally get to set the issues women talk about or determine the way all women view issues.
Let’s be bold.