Hillary Clinton: why Oregon is a leader in women’s equality

Carole Littrell and her grandson John Dilorenzo say they both went to Clinton's speech to hear her talk about foreign policy. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Even at the behest of a six-year-old, she didn’t announce her candidacy — but according to her Twitter account, her role is still “TBD.”

In front of a packed house of more than 3,000 people, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered the keynote speech for the World Affairs Council of Oregon’s International Speaker Series at the Keller Auditorium Tuesday night.

Clinton covered topics ranging from an all-out attack on Russian President Vladimir Putin, to the security threat posed by climate change, to living under the “breathless scrutiny” of the public eye.

But, the reason she came to speak in Portland was women.

 LISTEN: Sarah Gordon, 16, after hearing Clinton’s speech

sarah gordon_edited-1

“It’s the most unfinished business of our time,” Clinton said of gender inequality.

Clinton couches the argument for what she calls the “full and equal participation of women and girls” in economics.

“Women are now poised to become full participants in their societies and economies,” she told a predominantly female crowd.

“Too many still face ceilings that hold back their aspirations.”

She said the global workforce is dependent on women in order for the rapidly changing global economy to advance.

“Those ceilings don’t just hold down women and girls, they hold down entire economies and societies,” she said.

Women, she said, still earn 16 percent less income for the same work as men, and that’s in America. A report released by the International Monetary Fund showed economic growth could grow substantially just by having as many women in the labor force as men: 5 percent in the U.S., 9 percent in Japan and 34 percent in Egypt.

 LISTEN: Relly King, 60, on picking up at a Clinton speech

Relly King

Clinton said she has talked to world leaders about women’s equality numerous times to varied results.

“But when I raise the impact it would have on the economy, what it would mean, they’re very pleased,” she said.

Oregon and women leading the way 

“This is the day we think about how women are paid, on Equal Pay Day,” said Oregon House Democrat Majority Leader Val Hoyle.

Oregon is the only state with women in the two highest positions of power in the legislature, and has had the most female speakers out of any state in the country.

Oregon House Democrats House Leader Val Hoyle. (Val Hoyle)
Oregon House Democrats House Leader Val Hoyle. (Val Hoyle)

Hoyle and House Speaker Tina Kotek make up the only chamber in the U.S. with a female majority leader and presiding officer.

“Women can be in positions of authority,” said Hoyle, who worked on Clinton’s first campaign.

“Equal opportunity for women crosses bipartisan lines.”

LISTEN: June McLean, 90, on women then and now

June McLean_edited-1

“Whether it’s women CEOs or women in politics, or women athletes, these are women leaders and certain things go beyond partisanship,” Hoyle said.

“You don’t have to agree with someone just because they’re a woman. I didn’t agree with Condoleeza Rice but I couldn’t take away the fact she was incredibly qualified.”

Tech and ties to Asia 

Clinton also gave Portland’s “silicon forest,” as well as Oregon’s trade ties to Asia, a nod.

“Innovation being pioneered in Portland is critical to how far we get for the full participation of women and girls,” she said.

“Our future growth depends on looking west to the pacific.”

The former First Lady even hinted it might be a good idea to take up Mandarin lessons as a hobby.



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