Michigan Democrats, War on Women — October 24, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Michigan women gather for first local launch of national OFA #StandWithWomen initiative


Initiative highlights the need for policy solutions, citizen engagement and more women in leadership.

You’d think we’d be done fighting for women’s rights, but there’s still work to do. And Organizing for Action (OFA) is standing with women and helping them be heard.

On Thursday, Mootown Ice Cream & Dessert Shoppe in Detroit hosted the first local launch of a national OFA initiative: Stand With Women. Speaking at the event were State Representative (and State Senate candidate) Rashida Tlaib, Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds Lisa Brown and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan Director of Government Relations and Political Fundraising Meghan Hodge Groen.

Tlaib explained the importance of the initiative.

We’re here because we feel we deserve much more from our leaders. Stand With Women is about amplifying women’s voices. The attacks on women’s rights and freedoms are disrespectful and dehumanizing to women. We need policies that support working women and their families.

As Tlaib explained, more women than ever are the primary breadwinners in households — 40 percent, an all-time high. Part of the Stand With Women initiative involves championing the cause of fair and equal pay for women, who currently earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men, and even less if they’re African American or Hispanic. The Paycheck Fairness Act would eliminate that inequity, and raising the minimum wage would help both men and women rise up out of poverty, although the majority of minimum-wage workers are women.

Stand With Women also supports greater responsiveness to the needs of working families, like paid family leave, and access to high-quality preschool and child care. Because women don’t only care about women’s issues — they care about issues that impact their entire family.

“When we’re strong and have resources we need, our children succeed,” Tlaib said.

Of course, women do care very much about the issues that affect them directly. In 2013, more than 300 restrictions to women’s reproductive choices were introduced by lawmakers across the country.

Groen addressed this troubling trend.

Why are we so worried about women who haven’t been born, yet we have the highest infant mortality rate in the world? Why won’t the GOP support bills that change that? Why won’t they support programs that assist women who want to have babies?

Groen also spoke about the effort by Right to Life of Michigan to bypass voters and force women to buy separate insurance coverage for abortions — even in the case of rape, incest or a risk to the life of the mother. She’s right when she said, “Politicians should not be involved in women’s healthcare decisions.”

Brown agreed, adding, “Men shouldn’t be allowed to tell us what to do with our bodies.”

Brown emphasized the need for more women in leadership roles. Although women make up 51 percent of the country’s electorate, far fewer women are in positions of political or corporate leadership. In fact, nearly 25 percent of all Fortune 500 companies have no women in any executive office positions, and women only hold 38 percent of the management positions across the country.

Just as Tlaib did, Brown encouraged women to run for office.

Women need to take a stand — and a seat in the government and on corporate Boards. We’re here to say, ‘It’s time for a change.’ Today is Michigan’s day to stand up and say ‘We stand with women.’

In addition to the speakers, Oakland County Deputy Clerk/Register Lavora Barnes and OFA volunteers, there were women at the event representing organizations supporting the Stand with Women initiative, which include the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Center for American Progress, and Michigan NOW (National Organization for Women). In case you were wondering, men came out to show their support, too.

Anyone can get involved, by hosting or attending an event or writing a letter to the editor in support of advancing women’s economic opportunity and protecting their rights. You can learn more HERE. And, of course, you can always tweet your support. Let’s get #StandWithWomen trending.

[Graphic courtesy of OFA.]