2023 summer intern Abby Hutchinson introduces a speaker at our annual DC Intern Summit.

By Kimberly Begg

Today’s young women are coming of age during a confusing, tumultuous time. Over the last few years, they’ve seen statues of American heroes torn down, cities burned, churches desecrated, stores looted, marriage and family redefined, and biological men dominating women’s sports competitions, all in the name of social justice.

It’s been two years since now-Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson could not give Senator Marsha Blackburn a definition for the word ‘woman’ at her confirmation hearing. Blackburn’s response to that bizarre moment affirms the importance of the Luce Center’s work:

[T]he fact that you can’t give me a straight answer about something as fundamental as what a woman is underscores the dangers of the kind of progressive education that we are hearing about.

Never before have young women been expected to affirm such an obvious lie—that cross-dressing men who identify as women are women—sacrificing their safety (in locker rooms and other women’s-only spaces) and fair competition in women’s sports.

Is it any wonder that our recent nationwide survey of 18-29 year-old women found that a staggering 72% of young women think life is generally harder for women than men?

This finding got us thinking about what we’ve learned from over 30 years of experience working with young women.

We asked: “What can we share to help mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, etc. better support the young women in their lives?”

We came up with this list of 10 Ways to Empower Young Women to Live Better, Happier, Freer Lives:

1. Expose lies in the culture that sabotage young women’s happiness. Groupthink is a powerful force that makes individuals vulnerable to bad decision-making based on flawed or irrational ideas. Studies show that women are more likely than men to conform to the group. One of the most effective ways to chip away at groupthink and free young women to make good decisions to improve their lives is by confronting the culture’s most egregious lies head-on. This is something we do at Luce every day. It’s effective because, deep down, women know the truths hiding in plain sight of the lies they’ve been told: that hook-up culture and pornography are not empowering, but harmful, to women; that mothers killing their own children in abortion defies the natural law; that men cannot become women, and that women suffer when men use their locker rooms and bathrooms and compete in women’s sports. Every lie that is exposed brings young women one step closer to a life directed toward happiness.

2. Teach them to be truth-seekers and truth-tellers. Among the more troubling aspects of government schooling is that it produces citizens with an alarming lack of interest in learning outside the classroom. This is by design. Many Americans don’t realize that our government education system is based on the Prussian model, which was contrived—not to support the formation of free and virtuous people and families—but to produce compliant, conformist citizens. This is not a system that today’s young women should rely on to help them live fulfilling lives. It’s critical that young women take charge of their own education and use trusted resources—including Luce’s internships, campus lectures, and summits and seminars—to supplement and correct the information, ideas, and assumptions that they encounter on campuses and social media. Seeking and sharing the truth will free them from the conditioned ignorance of their peers.

3. Give them healthy women role models. All young people need role models. Young women need women role models to inspire them to flourish as women. Giving young women biographies of Abigail Adams, Joan of Arc, Clare Boothe Luce, Mother Teresa, Margaret Thatcher, and other heroic women will show them the many ways that women have made courageous contributions to society throughout the course of history. Introducing them to today’s most inspiring women leaders—including Luce speakers Riley Gaines, Liz Wheeler, Allie Beth Stuckey, Abby Johnson, and many others—will show them that they are in good company standing up for truth and goodness in a world that too often rejects both.

4. Celebrate their femininity. Women are not the same as men. We are equal in dignity, but not the same in biology. Our capacity for motherhood makes us nurturers. Since the 1960s, a strain of feminism has tried to de-emphasize womanly gifts and put us at odds with men and even our own children. But neither activism nor rhetoric has ever been able to deny that women possess a certain femininity in want of expression. At Luce, we find that young women are eager to embrace their beauty, complementarity to men, and strength of womanhood; to humbly serve our families as caretakers; and to make homes that are welcoming and reflective of God’s love. They want permission to be who God created them to be: unapologetically feminine women.

5. Help them understand their duties to God and their families, communities, and country. No person is an island. We all have our people: the men and women who support us and those who depend on us for support. Young women need to understand that the purpose of their civil and legal rights is to empower them to fulfill their natural duties to God and the people in their lives. Parents owe a duty to their children; children to their parents; siblings to each other; congregants to church communities; neighbors to each other; and Americans to the country that safeguards their God-given freedoms. We share these truths at Luce because young women who recognize their duties are better able to embrace them as a source of their purpose and joy.

6. Give them good books that teach eternal truths. A misguided goal of modern times is to prefer the experiences of similarly situated people—those of the same ethnicity, social standing, and time—to history’s most fascinating figures. Often it is the lives of those who have the least in common with modern people who best illustrate eternal truths, because unfamiliar situations show the unchanging nature of the human experience. Great works of literature, philosophy, history, politics, and business serve as a steady guidepost to young women who are navigating their path in a chaotic world. Personal favorites include Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Animal Farm by George Orwell, the Declaration of IndependenceCapitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman, Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr., Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, and The Rights of Women by Erika Bachiochi. Luce’s students love receiving books at our events—especially when they hear from and meet the authors! It’s important that young women develop a habit of reading good books to make sense of their lives and place in the world.

7. Model servant leadership. Modern women are told to “lean in” to their careers, to become Girlbosses who put their own ambitions above the needs of those around them. So they may be surprised to learn that it is a commitment to serving rather than leading that achieves greater personal fulfillment and success in all areas. The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership by James C. Hunter is a great book to guide young women in their interactions with the people in their lives. At Luce, we try to model servant leadership to our students so they know how to better serve the people in their lives.

8. Get them moving and off their phones. Human beings are spiritual and physical beings with minds, souls, and bodies. In a busy, productive world, young women need to be intentional about caring for their whole selves, especially given increasing mental health problems brought on by social media. We tell our students that a great way for them to tend to their overall health is by exercising, technology free, outdoors. Going for a walk or a jog in nature, leaving the phone behind, enables women to tap into the restorative power of movement and silence, which helps them contemplate and make sense of the events and ideas of their lives.

9. Expose them to beauty. Much of what passes for entertainment today is culture-corrupting content that is vapid, violent, and vulgar. It’s not enough to warn young women not to consume harmful movies and music. They need to be introduced to good and beautiful works that will engage their minds and elevate their souls. This is something we prioritize with Luce’s summer interns. Exposing them to theater, ballet, classical music, and classic movies, literature, and musicals will help them develop a taste for entertainment that will enrich—not degrade—their lives.

10. Inspire Courage. At Luce, we teach young women Clare Boothe Luce’s wonderful quote: “Courage is the ladder on which all other virtues mount.” This is a message that today’s young women desperately need to hear. Too often, well-meaning adults tell young people to “keep their heads down” to “get along with” and “get ahead in” the world—thus, to opt out of character-strengthening opportunities that could have a ripple effect on the attitudes and actions of others. This is dangerous advice with far-reaching consequences. A young woman who practices cowardice and calls it prudence will turn into an adult who does the same, and she and her family, community, and the world will be worse off for it.

We’re proud to partner with American patriots from across the country to educate, mentor, and prepare young women for conservative leadership. To learn more about our internship program, campus lectures, summits, and seminars, please reach out to Kimberly Begg at [email protected].

Kimberly Begg is president of the Clare Boothe Luce Center for Conservative Women.