The Republican Party faces significant challenges if it hopes to maintain its relevance in politics. No matter how it is couched, there is a widening gender gap in favor of the Democrats.

Unless a relevant and coherent message to women voters is crafted, the Republicans will be a minority party for decades to come.

The numbers speak for themselves. According to a Pew Research Center report (Nov. 26, 2012) after the presidential election, President Barack Obama won the votes of 58 percent of 18-to 49-year-old women.

He won the 18-29 vote among Hispanics, African-Americans and women by double digits. Unfortunately, there is no indication that this “gap” will self-correct.

Despite great women in the GOP, watching the public debate last election was beyond depressing. The gross mischaracterization of the GOP’s “War on Women” taunted the party’s reputation.

The reality is that the Republican Party has a rich history of electing women. Notably, Republicans elected the first woman in Congress, Jeannette Pickering Rankin, R-Mont., and the first woman to hold office in the Senate and House of Representatives, Margaret Chase Smith, R-Maine.

The perception that the GOP is “anti-woman” is a recent phenomenon evidenced in this past presidential election, when large numbers of women were persuaded that the GOP wanted to ban birth control, even though no Republican candidate supported such a policy.

The messaging worked particularly well with single women under the age of 35, resulting in widespread disenchantment of the GOP driving women away from Mitt Romney and other candidates of the GOP.

In simple terms, Republicans lacked a coherent response and were unable to reverse momentum caused by this erroneous assertion.

Because party affiliations and voting patterns and trajectories are difficult to change, there is a sense of urgency we must recognize and address. Bold, competent female leaders are needed to move America and the GOP in the right direction. Women need to offer themselves for leadership positions; it is the only way to bridge the gender gap.

If anything, conservative women have a practical understanding about policies that impact the economy and our families.

Whether you are a young woman fresh out of college struggling to find a job, or a mother trying to make the best decisions for your children, conservative women should be prominent in the policy debate.

Not enough is being done to recruit future female GOP leaders so that they can succeed. Not enough is being done to message to women voters of the next generation and demonstrate that Republicans represent them.

Overall, too many people are waiting for something to happen and not enough actual work is taking place.

If women unite, they easily can have a major impact, not only on the Republican Party, but also on the United States as a whole. Outcome-based changes can only occur when women engage.

Too much is at stake in the battle of ideas to sit back and allow important decisions to be made by others.

To this end, Palladian View is hosting the 2013 Bridging the Gap Women’s Summit in Charleston on Friday and Saturday (Aug. 23 and 24).

Featuring conservative women icons Ann Coulter, Star Parker, Dana Loesch and congresswomen Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., and Kay Granger, R-Texas, the summit will also include panel discussions on such topics as messaging to female audiences, candidate recruitment and cultivating female leadership.

The audience will be comprised of leading female business owners, party leaders, elected officials and conservative activists from across the country who have a joint interest in seeing a groundswell of conservative women going into the voting booth and stepping forward to lead.

Karen Floyd, former chairwoman of the South Carolina Republican Party, is CEO of the Palladian Group and publisher of Palladian View, a digital magazine for conservative Republican women.