Valerie Biden Owens on Girl Power
Some have referred to this past year as the “Year of the Woman.” And indeed, with an unprecedented number of women running for public office this year, the climate is changing for women in politics.
Valerie Biden Owens was on campus on Thursday, Oct. 18 at the Biden Institute to discuss women in power and politics. It was an open and free event and set up as a conversation between Biden Owens and those attending.
She introduced herself as Joe Biden’s sister, but was quick to clarify that there’s more to herself than that.
“But on my own I am one hell of a woman,” Biden Owens said.
This set the tone for the rest of the conversation.
She spoke of a young girl who lived 20 or 25 miles down the road with three brothers. The girl and her older brother had a special bond, as she described a scene of them playing baseball with neighborhood friends.
“From the time that she could remember the big brother told her that whatever he could do, she could do better,” Biden Owens said.
The pair was soon revealed as Valerie and Joe. She listed her accomplishments along the way, including being Joe’s campaign manager.
“The most rewarding of all, is that it has given me the opportunity to help the next generation of young women leaders to find confidence within themselves,” she said.
Biden Owens also mentioned Nobel Prize winner Edith Wharton’s idea that there are two ways to shed the light — one is to be the candle and the other the mirror that reflects it.
“I think it goes both ways,” Biden Owens said. “Sometimes you’re the candle, and sometimes you’re the mirror, but the message is the same. We all have a responsibility of spreading the light.
“I don’t believe it comes stamped in our DNA.”
She spoke about confidence as one of the keys in being an influential female leader.
“You have to find your own true north,” Biden Owens said. “You have to figure out the things you won’t stand for.”
As for more specific advice and guidance for young women at the university, she started with voting.
“If you don’t engage, you can’t complain,” she said.
Then she spoke about the importance of risk-taking. “Practice risk now,” she urged. She further explained that now is the time to do so because the more successful you become, the more there is to lose.
Students and other spectators had the opportunity to ask Biden Owens questions and for insight on her personal experiences.
Gillian Williams, President of the American Association of University Women, who helped organize the event said, “I was proud of the number of people in attendance and the engagement in the crucial conversation. Mrs. Biden Owens inspired the audience to do what we want to do and be who we want to be. I hope those who attended gained confidence and feel compelled to be changemakers of not only the future but the present.”