We regularly share insights from an expert in the liberty movement on how we might be more strategic in our charitable giving. In this segment, Carrie Lukas, President of Independent Women’s Forum, offers commentary on the circumstances of conservative women today and advice for those seeking to champion women in a principled, pro-liberty way.
The freedom movement works to spread opportunity and create a fairer, safer, more prosperous world for everyone.
Yet that’s often not the image that one sees in the media, where those working to limit government and expand freedom are presented as interested solely in benefiting those already well off. Progressives are given the moral high ground, while conservatives and libertarians are painted as callous and indifferent to people’s struggles.
We need to correct this misconception about what motivates our movement. This is particularly important for encouraging more women to consider our ideals and join our cause.
Supporting Women and Your Principles
The liberty movement proudly and appropriately rejects tokenism—people, regardless of their sex, race, religion, sexuality—should be judged as individuals, rather than just as a member of a group. Yet it’s important that we confront and dispel the inaccurate stereotype that only white, straight men support and benefit from our founding principles. We need to show that we embrace people from all walks of life, and that women like them have a home in our movement and in the freer, more just society we envision.
Donors can help in this effort by supporting groups working to change this narrative.
Groups such as Independent Women’s Forum, which I lead, work to show that what motivates those in the liberty movement is our desire for a fairer, more inclusive, just, innovative society that provides more opportunity and better lives for all. IWF uses messages that are designed to correct people’s misconceptions that underlie their support for progressive policies and connect with women.
But the messenger is also often as important as the message: IWF spokeswomen—women from all backgrounds, representing every race, age, demographic group and lifestyle—are seen on television by millions of Americans every day, helping to change the freedom movement’s brand and show more women that there are people like them who support our ideals.
Along with IWF, other freedom movement groups are working to create a positive community for women who support these ideals. The Network of Enlightened Women (NeW) creates a community for conservative college women, with efforts ongoing on more than 40 campuses. NeW chapters meet to discuss issues and politics, and the principles of our founding. Ladies of Liberty Alliance supports liberty-loving female leaders with education, training, and networking opportunities. Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute helps support and promote conservative women speakers so they can reach wider audience.
More broadly, the State Policy Network supports the growth of a collaborative and entrepreneurial network of state think tanks, including many lead by impressive women, and therefore helps make the entire movement more effective.
Supporting Women in the Real World
At the end of the day, the principles of liberty matter because they lead to human flourishing. That means we also need groups that demonstrate that the freedom movement is focused on helping the most vulnerable members of our country by providing more and better opportunities.
Groups like the Foundation for Research on Research on Equal Opportunity, which is committed specifically to identifying policy reforms to reduce barriers that hinder economic mobility; the Institute for Justice, with its work to eliminate barriers to employment, and Foundation for Government Accountability, which works to make the American Dream of work and independence more accessible by improving our safety net systems will appeal to women deeply concerned about family, friends, and communities that seem left behind.
Another worthy example is Generation Justice, a group dedicated to directly defending vulnerable children through its pro-bono law clinic and reforming the child protection systems that are supposed to help children who have been abused and abandoned.
We’ve all seen the statistics that show that women are less likely than men to support principles like less government and greater liberty.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
There is a tremendous opportunity for the freedom movement to bring more women into our cause if we strategically reach out to women, improve our brand by highlighting our commitment to greater justice and opportunity, and share the evidence showing how our principles are the best path for achieving those outcomes. We can win over more women—and need to—to make a better, freer world.
Carrie L. Lukas is the President of Independent Women’s Forum and a contributor to many publications such as National Review, Forbes.com, and Acculturated. Before joining IWF in 2003, she worked on Capitol Hill as the senior domestic policy analyst for the House Republican Policy Committee and at the Cato Institute. She is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She lives with her husband and five children in Virginia.