PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of women are expected to gather and rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland on this International Women’s Day.
The day to celebrate women around the world includes fighting for gender and financial equality.
The speakers at the Portland rally — which begins at 4 p.m., with a march at 5 p.m. to the Salmon Street Springs Fountain — are expected to share stories calling for change. They will send a message advocating for racial, gender and economic equality.
A record number of women in the US are employed and in 2018 women filled the majority of new jobs. For several years Oregon and Washington have been among the leading states in the nation for fasterst growing economies and job growth, and Portland has proven to be a particularly good city for startups.
But while more and more women are working, female entrepreneurs still lag behind their male counterparts.
It’s a challenge for women like Brianne Mees, who co-owns the Portland store chain and record label Tender Loving Empire.
Tender Loving Empire is one of the fastest growing companies in the Portland and in the state of Oregon. It works with local craftsmen and artists and is expanding its inventory to fair trade global products, as well.
“I’ve been lucky enough to hire my team, and create my own culture and hire peope that are a culture fit,” Mees said, noting 80% of the 55 people on staff are women. “There’s some real powerhouses getting some stuff done and doing great things for this community.”
She said financial equality is incredibly important.
“I love to think about the financial impact that a small business like ours has on the community and not just directly to those folks, but all the good things that they turn around and do for the community as well.”
Mees added that if you “support one small business then likely you’re supporting others as well.”
Tanya Webb is the head of diversity, equity and inclusion for a global software company headquartered in Portland that helps online shopping.
“It’s important to be able to make sure that companies like us provide those opportunities so that they can be finanically independent, or realize that ‘Oh, I can be a VP, I can be a CEO,'” Webb told KOIN 6 News.
She said there is a long way to go, but there are real opportunities.
“To be able to know that we’re fostering this sort of openness and to make it OK for people to ask and inquire and want to be educated is just an amazing feeling.”