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This August will mark 100 years since women got the right to vote in the U.S., although women in Oregon voted in local elections before that beginning in 1912. Sharon Nesbit repeats this column from 2012.

COURTESY PHOTO: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS / UNSPLASH.COM - This image shows suffrage and labor activist Flora Dodge Fola La Follette (1882-1970), center, along with social reformer and missionary Rose Livingston, and a young striker during a garment strike in New York City in 1913.

It was 100 years ago that women got the vote in Oregon. Lordy, I hope we never take that for granted.

My grandmother was born without the right of suffrage. Yep, that's what they called it - the right of every citizen to vote. Though NESBITGrandma, being a woman, wasn't a full-fledged citizen then. The theory was that the little woman should be protected from the crude things, such as politics and government.

Grandma was 22 before she got the right to vote in Nebraska in 1919. She and Grandpa married in 1920. And next you see her, bone thin, on a raggedy farm, her little kids trailing, helping with the work. Crude things in life?

Hogwash.

I wonder if my grandfather, knowing and loving this feisty little school teacher, voted to let her vote. He may not have been there for that election because he was off fighting in Europe.

In Oregon we tried for 42 years before we convinced enough men to give women the vote in local matters in 1912. I asked Hubs if the measure had come up, would he, back in the day, have approved?

"Probably not," he said, shedding light on why he and I are members of opposite political parties.

Hubs said he likely wouldn't have voted for suffrage, "because my father was dead against it. He said it was the worst thing that ever happened to this country."

Hub's father is dead now and safely out of my reach.

I wasn't here in 1912 when women got the vote in Oregon. (Though many people think I was.) But the first difference it made was in local politics. Troutdale elected a woman mayor the following year. She was part Indian, to boot. Clara Latourell Larsson proved to be a fine public servant for the rest of her life.

But it was also true, as many men predicted, that woman-power at the polls resulted in prohibition of alcohol, which didn't work out all that well. Don't blame Clara Larsson. Her husband owned a saloon and she worked in a liquor store.

We learned that empowering women makes a difference in a country. And many women in the rest of the world look at us enviously, over the shoulders of their gun-toting husbands. They are still suffering and still trying.

What a difference women can make with just a bit of power. Look to women entrepreneurs in India. See a world scandalized by the shooting of a Pakistani girl who fought, and will continue to fight, for education.

See the women in Afghanistan, standing up for their education and a role in running that miserable country. I worry about what will happen to them when we leave there.

When we close the door on Afghanistan, I vote that we hand over the keys, and any leftover money, to the women.


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