In this Soroptimist International of Ashland (SIA) column, we want to highlight "Count Her In," a new report from the Women’s Foundation of Oregon (WFO). The report reveals that Oregon women and girls contribute to their communities at higher rates, but also face more challenges than both Oregon men — and women nationwide.

Count Her In is the first comprehensive report on the status of Oregon women and girls in 20 years! It is a compilation of local, state and national data, as well as personal stories from Oregon women and girls who participated in a spring 2016 statewide listening tour, including a stop in Southern Oregon. Among the WFO’s key findings are the “Eight That Can’t Wait," a set of clear inequities and startling challenges faced by Oregon’s women and girls, including:

• More than 1 million women and girls currently living in Oregon are survivors of domestic or sexual violence that happened at some point in their lives; this is one of the three highest rates in the nation.

• Poverty rates for Oregon women of color are twice as high as those of white women.

• Childcare costs in Oregon are among the least affordable in the nation.

• The wealth gap for Oregon women is among the worst in the nation; and

• Oregon women have the single highest incidence of reported depression in the entire country.

Count Her In also found that Oregon’s women and girls contribute more than their fair share toward making the state a great place to live. For instance, women in Oregon:

• Perform 500 million hours of unpaid caregiving annually;

• Hold nearly 70 percent of the state’s educational positions and more than 80 percent of the state’s healthcare positions; and

• Donate both time and money at higher rates than both Oregon men and women in most other states.

The report also includes, for the first time in a single report, county-level data for each of Oregon’s 36 counties. For example, in Jackson County:

• Women make $0.80 for every dollar men make;

• Women only hold 25 percent of local leadership positions; and

• A year of childcare costs over $9,400.

“Count Her In is a stark reminder that Oregon has a big problem with gender equity,” says WFO Executive Director Emily Evans, who was born and raised in Ashland. “Every day, women and girls in Oregon face challenges to success that not only impact their lives, but ripple into their families and communities. The alarming findings revealed in this report call us all to immediate action.”

The Women’s Foundation of Oregon, a member-supported foundation, created the report as both a baseline for progress and a call to action for policymakers, community leaders, and all Oregonians. The report includes simple things everyone can do to help make Oregon a better place for its 2.1 million women and girls. (View the full report and executive summary at CountHerIn.org.)

In addition, according to Susan Moen, an SIA member and executive director of the Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), her group has recently received a $10,000 grant from the WFO to support two programs. One is the SANE program, which provides free care after a sexual assault by a specially-trained nurse, at any hospital 24/7, including medical care, evidence collection (if requested), STI prophylaxis and emergency contraception, as well as discussion of options including reporting to law enforcement and referral to support services.

The other program is the free, peer-facilitated SASH support groups meeting in Ashland and Medford for women healing from recent and past sexual assault; SASH offers support, information and resources and has one group dedicated to LGBTQ survivors. For more information, see www.jacksoncountysart.org.

Joy Dobson Way is chairperson of the Soroptimist International of Ashland Public Awareness Committee. Soroptimist Report appears quarterly in the Tidings. For more, go to www.soroptimistrv.org/siashland.html or call 541-326-6597.