Why We're Donating a Portion of March Newsstand Sales to the Women's Foundation of Oregon

Our state is full of both inspiring #oregonwoman success stories and startling statistics of poverty and assault. Here's how to help.

By Rachel Ritchie March 20, 2015 Published in the March 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Amy Martin

When I was little, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I felt pretty sure I’d be the first woman to play in the majors. I had a mean fastball and a quick glove, and there was nothing more exhilarating in the world than tugging my hat low and striking out the boys—showing them what it meant to “throw like a girl.” I played until high school, when the boys kept getting bigger and faster, and tennis started to seem more sensible. Still, that competitive drive stuck with me. Working on this month’s feature (#OregonWoman) had me thinking about those days quite a bit, picturing that hard-nosed little girl, absolutely sure she could do anything she wanted. How lucky was I?

I had my first conversation about this issue last fall, when I sat down with Sunny Petit and Mariana Lindsay from the Center for Women’s Leadership. They told me about amazing women they’d recruited for their programs, women like Marcela Alcantar and Kendall Clawson, who are steering policy, transforming business, and brazenly reimagining what leadership looks like. They talked about Oregon’s rich history of pioneering women, about camaraderie and resilience, and about the urgency of sharing powerful stories. It turned out we were weighing in at a key moment for Oregon women.

Still, startling statistics lurk behind inspiring successes. Here in Oregon, women, a full 50 percent of the state’s population, make 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. A female Oregonian has a 20 percent chance of being born into poverty and staying there, and one in four Oregon women will be raped, sexually assaulted, or domestically abused in her lifetime. It is appalling, it is unacceptable, and it is impossible to ignore.

We’re starting here: this month, we’re donating a portion of all newsstand sales to the Women’s Foundation of Oregon, a new statewide organization born of a merger between the Portland Women’s Foundation and the Women’s Care Foundation, started in 1887 and in 1924, respectively. Emily Evans, the Ashland-born executive director, is aiming high: “I want to be this driving force that has the back of women and girls in Oregon,” she says of the foundation’s blend of grantmaking, research funding, and advocacy. “Now, every woman in this state has a philanthropic outlet where she can know that every dollar improves the lives of women in Oregon. That’s a powerful thing.” Indeed. And if you bought this magazine on the newsstand, you’re already pitching in (if you didn't you still have time).

Our feature, of course, captures only a small slice of the vast experience of Oregon women, so we want to hear from you—we want to know who inspires you and what challenges you. Use the #oregonwoman hashtag on Instagram and Twitter, and we’ll post your dispatches on our website. Maybe you have your own little pitcher, or a budding chemist, or an engineer. Keep those dreams alive.

Rachel Ritchie
Executive Editor

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