Portland, OR

It's International Women's Day: Here's Where to Find a Way to Celebrate in the Portland Area

Rose Bak

Do We Really Need a Special Day for Women? Why International Women’s Day Matters More Than Ever, Even in Progressive Portland

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Monday March 8th is International Women’s Day. The theme for this year’s event is “Choose to Challenge”. The city of Portland will be commemorating the event, along with cities around the globe.

According to the official website of International Women’s Day, this year’s theme is meant to encourage people to call out prejudice and bias instead of turning the other way.

“A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let's all choose to challenge.”

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Photo courtesy of International Women's Day

Despite the ongoing pandemic, there are some great events you can join in the Portland area to commemorate women around the world. But first, a little history:

What is International Women's Day?

In this age of social media, every day is a celebration of something: beer, roses, pandas and today, women. Some might assume that International Women's Day is just another one of these come-lately holidays but it actually has a long and rich history.

First observed by the suffragettes way back in 1909, it was intended to highlight the contributions of women and draw attention to the women's rights movements that were simultaneously happening around the world. After various iterations, the United Nations officially declared International Women's Day as a holiday in 1975. Over time Women's Day has been used to celebrate accomplishments, draw attention to various issues, and call for action like voting rights and equal pay.

"Now all we need is to continue to speak the truth fearlessly, and we shall add to our number those who will turn the scale to the side of equal and full justice in all things." -- Lucy Stone

I've seen people comment "why do we need International Women's Day?" Not to be flip, but if you have to ask, you might be part of the problem. I invite you to read more about this here.

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In the United States and around the world, women still make a fraction of what their male counterparts earn. It's gotten better over the years, but we are still a long way from pay equity. While we have unprecedented numbers of women serving in public office, everything from local offices up to national leadership remains mostly men.

Women are disproportionately victims of violence and crime and in many countries, it is perfectly legal to hit your spouse. Girls are still being married off against their will as children, and having their bodies mutilated.

I could cite facts all day but the simple fact is that as long as women are seen as "less than" in society, as long as women are impacted by violence and discrimination and harassment and disparate treatment, we have work to do. And of course women of color and women who identify as LGBTQ are impacted even more by all of these issues.

Here's how to celebrate IWD in Portland

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Although many events are canceled or moved to a virtual format due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Portland is still offering a few fun events that will get you out of the house:

Get Outside with the Portland Audubon: Join other Portlanders at the Portland Audubon for a trail party and hike. You can do some service to groom the trails and maintain Portland's natural areas, meet some other cool women, and get some exercise at the same time. The trail party is on Monday March 8th from 8:30 to 3:30 starting at their main building in northwest Portland.

Play Some Golf: The Eastmoreland Golf Course in southeast Portland is hosting an International Women's Day Golf & Happy Hour. The event aims to make the sport of golf more inclusive and less intimidating. For more information, click here.

Rally for Women's Rights: Join the "Womxn's March & Rally for Action" event on Sunday March 7th. This event invites you to take to the street at the same time as other women to celebrate the long history of women's involvement in organizing and promoting social justice. So grab your kids and hit the Springwater corridor, the Eastbank Esplanade, or your favorite Portland walking path.

Learn About Oregon's Struggle for Equal Rights for Women: Read up on Abigail Scott Duniway, who is called Oregon's "Mother of Equal Suffrage" and "the pioneer Woman Suffragist of the great Northwest." Duniway was a tireless advocate for the rights of women, the editor of a local human rights newspaper, and a prolific writer who worked closely with Susan B. Anthony. You can also head on over to Duniway Park in southwest Portland to see her memorial plaque and look out over the beauty that is Portland.

Join an Online Event: The International Women's Day website has a full listing of both in-person and virtual events from around the world. If you're not in Portland or you prefer to stay socially distanced, check out their webpage for fun ideas.

Today, and every day, it's important to celebrate the accomplishments of women, and to come together to address inequity. We have work left to do, a lot of it.

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.” -- Sojourner Truth

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#portland #oregon #iwd #women #events

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Rose Bak is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon with her family and special needs dogs. She writes on a variety of topics including local news, homelessness, poverty, relationships, yoga, and aging. She is also a published author of romantic fiction. For more of Rose's work, visit her website at rosebakenterprises.com or follow her on social media @AuthorRoseBak.

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