The dream of equal rights for women has not yet been won. In fact, if it was a track event, many women might agree we are nowhere near the finish line.

For White American women who came of age with Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug, and who may think standing up to sexism, demanding equal pay, calling out sexual harassment and fighting for paid maternity leave got the job done, that agenda is out of date. Expired. Not resonating with the diverse cross-section of independent women speaking up in 2017.

The race is not won, and it’s not a sprint. It is a relay, and the baton is being passed to younger women who can run the distance.

A teachable moment for Portland is at hand. Considered “one of the whitest cities in America” according to the Washington Post, with a population that is 76% white, in a state founded on principles of a “Racist Utopia,” it looks like women will clean up the mess.

The Women’s March On Washington, the flagship march of what is now a global, simultaneous “sister march” in nearly 400 US and international locations, will send an unprecedented message to incoming elected officials – and countries around the globe – that women will oppose further limits on their human rights, and push harder to make space for equal time and space for women of color, immigrant women, and for women of the LGBTQIA community.

Portland is projected to host one of the largest “sister marches” in the nation, with over 25,000 marchers expected to participate in the Saturday, January 21, “Womens March on Portland”

“These sister marches show a powerful and inclusive movement, which is just as crucial as the thousands who will travel to DC,” declared WMW founder and co-chair Bob Bland, who also welcomed global participation: “We’re excited that women across the nation and the world are organizing to stand together in solidarity. Our unity will send a strong and clear message that women and our allies will protect our rights, our health, our safety and our communities.”

In Oregon, however, March leaders have struggled to maintain unity in the face of conflicts between the original organizers and individuals (or groups) who felt excluded. The tension led to Portland’s branch of the NAACP withdrawing its endorsement of the event – reportedly after participants were discouraged from holding “Black Lives Matter” or anti-Trump signs deemed “too political.”

A Portland NAACP press release cited organizers’ “resistance to addressing the critical issues that many women especially Muslim, immigrants & refugees and Black women are facing with the incoming administration.”

Margaret Jacobsen, a writer and activist tapped by national WMW leaders to diversify leadership of the Portland sister march, was in studio Monday, January 16, for a special edition of Community Voices on Portland Radio Project.


The Jacobsen interview kicks off a new podcast series, Portland Women Listen, created to explore the uncomfortable, important, emerging discussions among women about what it really takes to honor, support and respect all women.

You are invited to join and explore a new, different Utopia where this race might actually be won.

Rebecca Webb
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