Eight LDS women to speak at UN on maternal feminism

The Big Ocean Women youth delegation travels by subway to meetings at the Commission on the Status of Women in New York. (Jeanette Bennett)

Eight LDS women and girls, including three BYU students, will speak on their faith-based views on feminism at the United Nations in New York City on Tuesday, March 14.

The speakers range in age from 16 to 19 and are youth ambassadors for Big Ocean Women, a Utah-based organization founded on women for faith, family and motherhood. The event is titled the Commission on the Status of Women and will be held at 4 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. MST, in the One UN Hotel. The event will be streamed live on the Big Ocean Women Facebook page.

Each of the eight young women will be speaking on one of Big Ocean’s eight tenets, which correspond with the eight LDS Young Women Values:

  1. We believe in God and are women of faith.
  2. We are empowered by our feminine nature and biology, and we honor our procreative power.
  3. We are each unique and innately worthy of respect.
  4. We seek after knowledge and wisdom.
  5. We are free to choose and willingly accept responsibility for our choices.
  6. We reach out and serve in our homes, communities and the world.
  7. We follow our conscience in speaking and acting with integrity.
  8. We value the irreplaceable role of fathers and build interdependent relationships with men.
From left: BYU sophomore Taryn Royall, a lawyer with Family Watch, BYU freshman Marisa Hoover and BYU freshman Madeleine Arnold attend a pro-family training outside the UN on Sunday, March 12. (Jeanette Bennett)

Youth Ambassador Taryn Royall, a pre-communications BYU sophomore, got involved with Big Ocean Women through connections through her job at BYU Women’s Services and Resources.

“I’ve done a lot of spiritual preparation,” Royall said. “It was the biggest thing for me.”

Royall, who will be speaking on the eighth tenet, said she’s been preparing her testimony for her speech along with researching scientific data to back her claims.

“The biggest thing we want is to spread truth,” Royall said. “And even if we don’t impact a big group of people, we want to impact an individual. And that’s our goal: to touch someone’s life.”

Samantha Clinger, a Lone Peak High School senior who was recently accepted to BYU, will be speaking on Big Ocean Women’s fifth tenet.

“A lot of what I cover in my speech is helping women understand where their choices lie and helping them make deliberate choices so they can point their lives in the direction they want to go,” Clinger said.

Clinger said she hopes she can make a difference by helping people understand the lasting consequences that can come of choices.

“I didn’t think of myself as a feminist before this,” Clinger said. “I didn’t really identify with that because a lot of what I hear about feminism is so extreme — it’s very pro-choice and pro-things I didn’t really agree with.”

Clinger said coming to New York and preparing for her speech has informed her that feminism is about women coming together in search of solutions.

“They’re all working toward good goals,” Clinger said. “They’re all working toward a better life for the people around them. While I may not agree with a lot of their solutions, I respect them for what they’re trying to do.“

Clinger said her faith has been strengthened through this experience.

“Because I have faith in God and His plan and His love for me, I can see the love He has for other people,” Clinger said. “I can see that He wants to use us as instruments in His hands so that we can help these people and soften their hearts in some ways.”

According to the group’s website, Big Ocean Women “provides a place for faith-filled feminists to draw on their innate power in the public sphere.” The organization terms its movement “maternal feminism.”

Jeanette Bennett, Youth Delegation Director at Big Ocean Women, said this is her third year coming to the UN headquarters in New York with the program.

“This is the first time we’ve had youth at the UN,” Bennett said.

BYU freshman Marisa Hoover, left, shares her religious views at a session called “Youth, Faith and Feminism.” (Jeanette Bennett)

Bennett said after the eight girls were selected from more than 70 applicants, each chose the tenet she wanted to speak about. They have been preparing their speeches for the last month and a half.

“They’ve been brainstorming personal experiences they could share, finding research that would support the topic and then we’ve been practicing in front of each other to refine their talks,” Bennett said.


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