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Oregon Women Look for More Progress on Women's Equality Day

Above, delegates to the annual National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention in Portland, 1905. (Oregon Historical Society)
Above, delegates to the annual National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention in Portland, 1905. (Oregon Historical Society)
August 26, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - It's Women's Equality Day, a holiday proclaimed by Congress in 1971 to celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment, which ensured women the right to vote in 1920.

While progress has been made over the last century, Rebecca Gladstone, vice president of the League of Women Voters of Oregon, said women still have further to go. She said women these days have to fight the perception that they've cleared every hurdle, so the next generation can experience full equality.

"There is still some discrimination," she said. "There are glass ceilings. There are pay disparities. I have two daughters. I think there's still some achievement that has yet to happen."

In Oregon, women make 82 cents for every dollar men make, according to the Oregon Center for Public Policy. The gap is greater for women of color, African-American women make 70 cents, Native American women make 62 cents, and Latina women make 51 cents for every dollar made by a white man.

Gladstone said voters in Oregon don't face the same restrictions as in many other states, such as voter ID laws. The Beaver State has a vote-by-mail system and also the new "motor-voter" law, which automatically registers anyone getting a driver's license at the DMV. She said now, Oregon women can look toward getting voters engaged in the election.

"Now that we have the vote, and we have this great voter registration system that's coming into fruition even better than predicted, we're working on informing voters," she added.

Data from the Oregon motor-voter program shows more than 220,000 voters have been added to the rolls since the beginning of this year. Gladstone notes even before the motor-voter law, Oregon ranked fifth in the nation for voter turnout, and eighth for voter registration.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR