A Grand Forks legislator has been named woman of the year by the North Dakota Women’s Network for her work on women’s issues in her political career.
“It was quite a shock. I certainly didn't expect it,” said Rep. Kylie Oversen, a Democrat who represents District 42 near the UND campus.
Formed in 2006, the Women’s Network an advocate for women on matters such as political participation, equal opportunity and pay, access to birth control, women’s health and other issues.
Oversen was chosen because of her accomplishments since first getting elected to the Legislature in 2012, according to board member Melissa Jillett. The group considers political activity and work in areas such as reproductive rights, women’s safety and economic prosperity.
“We saw in her a woman from a small town in North Dakota … putting herself out there,” she said.
Originally from Killdeer, N.D., Oversen was UND student body president and is now a law student at UND.
Oversen cited women’s issues as an important part of her work in the 2013.
“Reproductive rights were the forefront of our last legislative session,” she said. “My committee was the one that heard all of those bills, and I was one of only three women on that committee, so I thought it was really important to bring a young woman’s perspective to those issues, somebody who hasn’t had children yet but hopes to.”
Several antiabortion bills in the last Legislature proved controversial during the session and led to legal challenges.
Oversen plans to work on economic issues for in the next legislative session, which starts in January.
“We’re working on a couple pieces of legislation right now to introduce next year that will hopefully strengthen women’s economic security in North Dakota, providing some more options for workplace protections and reducing poverty among women,” she said. “Because women and single mothers are more impoverished than other populations.”
The Women’s Network scheduled an award presentation for Oversen at its annual meeting in Bismarck Sept. 20.
Past winners of the award, first given in 2007, include former UND School of Medicine associate dean and legislator Judy DeMers and former Valley City State University President Ellen Chaffee.