Guest Columnist

Looking for a few (more) good women

Nominations for 2018 Woman of the Year due this week

People celebrate the 2016 summer solstice. (Ognen Teofilvovski/Reuters)
People celebrate the 2016 summer solstice. (Ognen Teofilvovski/Reuters)

Since 1976 the Women’s Equality Coalition of Linn County has worked to identify local women devoted to the betterment of women and girls and amplify their voices. With your help, this mission will continue another year.

Our annual Women’s Equality Day celebration is scheduled for Aug. 26, and we are currently seeking nominations from the community for our Woman of the Year award, which is presented at the event. The last day to submit a nomination is July 25, and nomination forms are available on our website, womensequalitycoalition.org.

Specifically, we are seeking nominations of women living or working in Linn County, who are engaging with their community in ways that improve the education, social welfare, health or artistic expression of women and girls. We want to recognize women who demonstrate a commitment to equality in their personal lives, professional circles and volunteer efforts. Tell us how the woman you nominate has worked to bring women into full and equal participation in society.

The long list of our honorees includes women from every walk of life — artists, business owners, politicians, pastors, nurses, educators, lawyers and journalists, just to name a few. What connects them is their determination and personal passion to improve the lives of local women.

In short, we are seeking information about the wealth of positive female role models who live alongside us, so that we can honor and learn from their extraordinary work to move our society closer to equality.

Recognition of these women fulfills the community’s obligation to let hardworking people know their contributions are valued. Nominees will know the power of learning their stories has not been overlooked, and is of special significance on Women’s Equality Day.

Research has shown, throughout our neighborhoods and regardless of gender, role models inspire hope and resilience. When our young people can see community leaders that look like themselves, these benefits grow. Or, as a British documentary producer aptly put it, “If she does not see it, she can’t be it.”

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Yet we also know that female participation across the nation’s most written and talked about industries has lagged behind. For instance, a U.S. study found only one female character to every three male characters in family films — and female characters in positions of power are an even smaller slice, just 4.5 percent. In addition, the top ranks of law, academia, policing and politics are represented by women less than 20 percent of the time.

This should not be construed as saying women do not exist in these professions, or that women cannot rise to the top within them. But if our goal is equality, the first steps must come in our communities, by amplifying the voices and work of local women.

Role models are key to changing perceptions, and bettering lives. So, please, tell us about the women you value in Linn County. Give us the opportunity to share and celebrate their good works.

• Sue Jorgensen is president of the Women’s Equality Coalition of Linn County. Women’s Equality Day, always on Aug. 26, commemorates the 1920 adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.

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Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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