This past September, for the first time in 20 years, the Women's Foundation of Oregon released Count Her In—a comprehensive, data-driven report about Oregon's women and girls. The findings were sobering and revealed inequities that pose immense challenges for girls and women in the state. Two of the more startling issues included wage disparity and the overwhelming prevalence of sexual and domestic violence.
According to Count Her In, Oregon women earn between 53 and 83 cents for every dollar men in Oregon earn. Just as jarring is the finding that over half of the state's females have experienced some form of sexual or domestic violence—one of the highest rates in the country. Saving Grace and World Muse are two local nonprofits that are addressing the issues outlined in the report, providing programs designed to raise awareness while protecting and empowering local women.
Saving Grace offers a wide range of crucial prevention, emergency and support services for those who have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. It serves approximately 5,000 clients each year—the vast majority of which are women and children.
Individuals in crisis have access to emergency shelter, free therapy, support groups, a supervised visitation and exchange center (Mary's Place), safety planning, court advocacy, trauma-informed childcare, youth violence prevention education and more through Saving Grace programs.
Outreach Coordinator for Saving Grace, Erin Rook, says what he found most surprising about the Count Her in Report was how deadly 2016 has been for women. He says, "As of the report's...release, 18 women had been killed by men—including women in Deschutes and Jefferson counties. That's equal to the number of women killed in domestic violence homicides in all of 2015."
World Muse was founded by Amanda Stuermer seven years ago and addresses women's issues through year-round programming. Stuermer believes women and girls have the potential to create positive social change, so she developed programs, including travel opportunities that expand awareness of issues affecting women and girls globally, salons designed to bring attention to issues facing females in the local community, and talking circles, Muse Meetups, and Teen Muse clubs in schools that engage the community in conversations around women's issues.
Muse also creates campaigns like #MuseOnThis, which gave members of the community an opportunity to share their feelings about the current political dialogue and how it perpetuates sexism, misogyny and violence against women.
Stuermer says, "...it was time to change the conversation to one that exposes truth and inspires us to all be a part of the change we want to see in this world." Perhaps most importantly, Muse programs are designed to empower individuals to take action and bring about the change they want to see, because, Stuermer says, "When we make the world a better place for women and girls, we make the world a better place, period."