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Women and financial planning is talk topic

Oregon Treasurer Jim Hill learned about the financial plight of women early in life.

I grew up in a black, working-class neighborhood in the segregated South in the 1950s and early '60s, he said. My mother, who raised me on her own, was essentially prohibited by law from achieving financial security because of racial and gender inequality.

Regardless of how hard she worked, the opportunities simply did not exist.

As state treasurer, Hill is seizing the opportunity to give women tools to plan for their financial security and retirement.

He's promoting Everywoman's Money Conference, scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 14 in Portland and broadcast live to 14 cities. Smith Barney is sponsoring the broadcast in the Smullin Center Auditorium at Rogue Valley Medical Center.

The program includes a series of presentations on financial planning, the importance of saving, home ownership, investments and other basics. During the afternoon session, participants will have workbooks to start applying some of the tools they're given.

The program, including lunch, is free to participants, but they must pre-register. The process can be done over the phone by calling Smith Barney at 779-5010.

The financial problems that my mother faced more than 35 years ago are still evident today, Hill said. Women, more often than men, still run into roadblocks as they drive toward the goal of financial independence. Women continue to earn less -- nearly 25 percent less -- than men. Almost 90 percent of all women in the U.S. earn less than $40,000 a year. Women are in and out of the work force more frequently than men.

He said most pension plans are not set up to accommodate workers who interrupt their careers to care for children or an elderly parent, he added, or for people who work part-time or in service-sector jobs.

About two-thirds of women work in sectors of the economy with the lowest pension- coverage rates and a third of the women over 55 receive no pension benefits at all.

He contends education, community action and personal motivation are three keys to addressing women's financial problems.

Hill's campaign, Economic Security for All Oregonians, is intended to bring the discussion to the state level to increase awareness and initiate steps toward practical solutions for Oregonians.