Yesterday, March 8, was International Women’s Day. That’s right, ladies, we get a WHOLE DAY! Par-ty!
Snark aside, International Women’s Day and the United States’ National Women’s History Month are important touchstones for considering the progress that has been made in the realm of women’s rights throughout the world. So long as we have public stonings, female circumcision, domestic violence, sexual assault, and education and income discrepancies, we continue to need to shine the spotlight on women and girls.
At one of my favorite places in Wallowa County, the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture, executive director Cheryl North Coughlan lined up an extraordinary range of programming to commemorate Women’s History Month, from brown-bag lunches that consider the role of women in ranching and farming and Title IX, to presentations by Eastern Oregon University’s Lidia Yuknavitch and Rebecca Hartman, to a showing of the Oregon Public Broadcasting documentary about Gwen Trice, The Logger’s Daughter.
The discussion of women’s roles in agriculture was, as you can imagine, extremely interesting for me. Wallowa County has what I think is an extraordinary number of women-run operations, and so I’m interested in learning more about that. The panel consisted of fourth-generation Oregonian rancher Jill McClaran, fellow ex-suburbanite and now CSA farmer Beth Gibans, and Wallowa-County-native-turned-East-Coast-urbanite-turned-Wallowa-County-native goat rancher Wendy McCullough, but there were plenty of other farmers and ranchers in the audience. The program was more of a conversation than a presentation. The older women expressed their envy of the young ones; in their day, women did just as much work as their brothers and husbands but, because of their gender, got no credit for their efforts nor had any legal or decision-making authority.
And, since the main floor of the Josephy Center is a beautiful gallery, there is also an exhibit (“Women’s Art, Women’s Vision”) that features local artists, including me! I was honored to receive an invitation to include some of my collage pieces. If you are in the area, be sure to check them out!