Michigan, Women — January 27, 2015 at 1:26 pm

MI Lead coalition launches to give women a stronger voice in Michigan


More than 30 organizations are engaged in the bipartisan initiative to empower women and ensure gender equality.

Women make up more than half of Michigan’s population, yet they are facing some significant challenges. That’s the reason for the creation of the MI Lead coalition, a bipartisan group dedicated to protecting women’s rights and empowering women by giving them more say in state policies.

Officially launched today at a press conference in Lansing, MI Lead is made up of more than 30 organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, Business and Professional Women of Michigan, AFL-CIO, Michigan League for Public Policy, Right to Health, American Association of University Women and the Michigan National Organization for Women.

The primary goal of the coalition is to restore Michigan as a model state for women’s rights by strengthening laws for women and families, and addressing gender inequality across the state.

Michigan Partners Project is a coalition member, and the organization’s Kindra Speech explains why.

Protecting women’s rights and empowering women leads to stronger, more stable families and a more equal and more prosperous Michigan, which benefits everyone in the state. Yet every day, women must overcome major obstacles to maintain their health, safety and economic security.

According to Lara Chelian, co-director of MI Lead, equal economic opportunity and access to quality healthcare are important matters for all citizens in Michigan.

Given that there are 2.1 million women working in the state, our coalition believes that women will play an even bigger role in the future success of our state as we increase efforts to ensure their equal rights.

Here are just a few of the challenges for women that MI Lead plans to address:

  • Michigan ranks 44th in the nation on the wage gap, with women making only 74 cents for every dollar a man makes and women of color making even less.
  • Michigan ranks 35th nationally on overall indicators of women’s and children’s health and well-being.
  • Michigan ranks 33rd nationally in the number of women in the state legislature, accounting for just 21 percent of the seats in the Michigan Legislature and 21 percent of the state’s congressional seats.
  • Michigan ranks 15th worst nationally on poverty rates for women, with more than 18 percent of women overall and 37 percent of women of color live in poverty.

Merissa Kovach, the coalition’s other co-director, explains why addressing these challenges is important — not only to women, but to the future of the state.

If Michigan is to prosper, it must ensure that policies being pushed by some lawmakers, policymakers and business leaders that restrict women’s economic parity and healthcare access are stopped in their tracks. MI Lead will make sure that women’s voices are heard.

MI Lead encourages other groups and individuals to join their effort. You can sign the MI Lead pledge on the coalition’s website. You can also “like” MI Lead on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

[Lara Chelian (l) and Melissa Kovach, co-directors of MI Lead. Image courtesy of MI Lead via Facebook.]