Letter to the editor
Oct. 11 is the UN's International Day of the Girl, and in Oregon, it's never been more critical and timely to talk about the plight of girls in our state.
I know the world I want to see for my daughters, and the girls that Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest serves, and I believe we can get there, but it is clear that our state is falling behind in providing the support, resources, and care that girls deserve.
We are lucky that Oregon just passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act that will help to close a lot of these gaps, but we're still seeing a significant lack of in investment in sexual health education.
Although we have some of the most progressive infrastructure for comprehensive sexual health education in the country, we have not seen enough progress to ensure all young people have equitable access across the state.
We also know Oregon girls experience higher rates of domestic and sexual violence, and stalking than the national average, and that trauma can have lasting impacts on girls' future health and education.
Again, our state has clear objectives for promoting healthy relationships with youth, but there is little support for the education system to implement this policy and support young people.
Mental health has a huge impact on the lives of girls and young women and their ability to lead healthy, fulfilling, and meaningful lives. Seventy percent of women in Oregon have faced a mental health issue that had adversely affected their lives.
Girls with unaddressed mental health problems may withdraw from classes or activities and lose access to critical development opportunities. Mental illness can also be isolating given the stigma that still surrounds seeking treatment or even admitting one suffers from a mental illness.
We need more support for young women across systems to ensure they are getting the care they need.
This Day of the Girl, I want us to celebrate the wins in Oregon — the great policy that has been passed to ensure women have equitable access to healthcare and education — while also remembering all of the work we have ahead of us.
I see the power young women possess and I believe in our collective ability to help them realize that power and use it to make Oregon a more equitable place for everyone. But that is on all of us to work together to see that power, believe in girls, and help them realize the full capacity of their potential. I look forward to the work we can do together as a state to continue to get there.