Portland, OR. With global activism for women’s equality fueled by movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp there was worldwide momentum for this year’s International Women’s Day. In England, Prince Harry’s fiancée Meghan Markle urged schoolgirls to break down gender stereotypes by pursuing careers in science, math and engineering. The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report prediction is that gender parity is over 200 years away, therefore this year’s theme for International Women’s Day was Press for Progress and organizers used #PressforProgress on social media.

International Women’s Day is celebrated each March 8th and draws attention to the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Several hundred Portlanders celebrated International Women’s Day by marching downtown and gathering in Pioneer Courthouse Square.  The march, designed to protest gender inequality, was organized by the activist group, Don’t Shoot Portland.

The International Women’s Day organization released several videos, like the one below, about Iceland’s progressive traditions.

Time Magazine celebrated women who stepped forward as #SilenceBreakers. They were TIME’s Person of the Year 2017.

Locally, five women took to the stage to tell their stories of persistence at an event at called, Our Bold Voices Presents: NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED.

The local event was also a special fundraiser for the Family Preservation Project.

Here’s more information on the speakers highlighted at the Portland International Women’s Day event:

Alicia Heddon

Alicia is a Native Oregonian and a mother of 2 young boys. She enjoys spending time outdoors with family and staying active with CrossFit and running. Alicia is an avid traveler and has been traveling with her boys before they could walk.



Cosette “Coco” Leary

Cosette “CoCo” Leary has overcome a childhood of poverty and abuse, raised four children through hard work and painful decisions, and has gone from surviving off of welfare benefits to earning her a degree with honors while serving as a staff member in both a Senatorial and Congressional office.


Denise Peña

Denise was born in Brasil but grew up here in the United States. She’s the mother of two and works  advocating on behalf of victims. Her hobbies include traveling, fitness and you can find her hiking with cans of wine in her spare time.


Stacey Rice

Stacey Rice is a speaker, educator and consultant who found her way to Portland from the North Carolina mountains a little over six years ago. She is a leader on transgender issues and loves sharing the difficult and joyous journey of being a transgender person. Stacey was recognized in 2016 as a Queer Hero NW by the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific NW and is the former Executive Co-Director of the Q Center.


Ellen Wolfson

Ellen Wolfson is a social worker, community builder, musician and storyteller. She plays in a popular Portland women’s marimba band, Chicamarimba. She, her wife, and her golden retriever live outside of Portland, Oregon on 15 acres where she helped raised four children. She is best known for her ability to draw people together and build safety nets through community.


About the the Family Preservation Project and Vera’s Purse:

The International Women’s Day event was a special fundraiser for the Family Preservation Project and Vera’s Purse. 

Named in honor of former mayor, Vera Katz, Vera’s Purse was created by a group of women who want to help low-income, older women to escape and avoid homelessness.


This fund may be used by Friendly House Senior Program and SAGE Metro Portland clients for short-term emergency rental assistance, application fees, and other eviction prevention and homeless intervention supports. Vera’s Purse provides Friendly House staff with yet another tool to help the vulnerable among us to live safely, with dignity and security. All donations to Vera’s Purse go directly to client assistance.

To make a contribution online: click here To make a contribution by mail, make checks payable to Friendly House with Vera’s Purse in the memo field.  Mail to:

Friendly House Attn: Development

2617 NW Savier St. Portland, OR 97210

If you would like more information about contributing to Vera’s Purse, please email us at [email protected] or call (503) 935-5287.