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Women must make their voices heard at the polls

Saturday, Aug. 26, is the anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, when women achieved the hard-fought right to vote. Since 1971, America has observed this date as Women's Equality Day. While women gained suffrage all those years ago, equity is still an issue today.

We must not reverse 34 years of progress, when we still have not yet achieved gender equity and a level playing field. Despite the visible successes of Title IX, women and girls still aren't receiving equal treatment - at many educational institutions, women's athletic budgets, supplies and facilities are inferior when compared to men's athletic programs. The concept of gender equality in the athletic arena has been featured in the news here in the Portland area in the recent past.

Pay equity remains an issue. In 2004, a typical college-educated woman working full time earned just $31,223 a year, compared to $40,798 for a college-educated man - a stark difference of $9,575, and a message that equity is still an issue.

Women have a lot at stake each time they go to the ballot box, from educational equity, preserving Social Security and a fair and balanced judiciary to civil rights, reproductive rights and equal pay. It's critical we make our voices heard at the polls.

I join with the American Association of University Women to use this opportunity to not only celebrate this critical moment in history, but to call on women to use and value this hard-won right.

MARDY STEVENS

President, American Association of University Women of Oregon

Gresham