On April 16, the Portland-based Women’s Foundation of Oregon will arrive in Eugene to listen to local women and girls as part of a statewide tour. The “Listen to Her” tour gives women all around Oregon a chance to share their concerns about pressing issues that affect their lives, including pay equity and living wage jobs, childcare and domestic violence.
The stories shared on April 16 will be recorded, with permission from participants, and outlined in a Women’s Foundation of Oregon report that will name issues important to female Oregonians.
“We’ve heard a lot that community leaders and folks throughout Oregon don’t think that gender inequity is a problem in Oregon,” says Emily Evans, executive director of Women’s Foundation of Oregon. “They think that women and girls in Oregon have it pretty good. And what we are learning from the data is that Oregon women and girls are experiencing some of the biggest inequities in the nation,” Evans says. “So we are trying to help convince folks that gender inequality is still a big issue for Oregon.”
Jennifer Sparks, a 42-year-old resident of Eugene, says she plans to attend and participate in “Listen to Her.” Sparks found out about the event via Facebook, where she expressed interest in speaking about aspects of divorce, child support laws and processes that create poverty traps for women and stay-at-home parents.
“We have been sold a load of BS that as women we now have equality. We do not,” Sparks says. “There are lots of studies that show being a parent is a big barrier in employment for women, but not for men, because the cultural expectation is men with children show up to work. Women with children stay home when their children are sick.”
At Eugene’s “Listen to Her” session, participants ages 12 years and older will have the opportunity to share their stories in multiple ways. Participants can identify three issues that are most pressing to them by placing sticky dots on a board of issues. Other options include working in 30-minute breakout groups, answering poll questions via text message, writing or drawing personal stories or entering a storytelling booth, where stories will be recorded on video.
Dinner will be provided at Eugene’s “Listen to Her,” along with childcare, loaner cell phones and Spanish translation. Organizers say that the event is welcoming of trans, cis and gender nonconforming women.
“Listen to Her” begins at 10 am Saturday, April 16, at South Eugene High School, 400 E. 19th Ave. Admission is free. The Women’s Foundation of Oregon is also looking for Eugene volunteers. Find more info at womensfoundationoforegon.org.