LANSING — In recognition of the 100th anniversary of Michigan ratifying the 19th amendment, House Democratic Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus (PWC) Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and other state legislators and PWC members celebrated and reaffirmed the state’s dedication to foster and protect equality for all women. On June 10, 1919, Michigan became one of the first three states to ratify the 19th amendment, extending voting rights to women across the United States.
“We owe a great debt to the pioneers of the suffrage movement,” said Greig. “We all stand on the shoulders of the women and men who fought hard in the face of adversity to bring voting rights to women. Without their tireless work and sacrifice, we would not have made the great strides towards equality that we have seen in the last one hundred years.”
“Today we recognize the brave activists who made it their mission to ensure every person, no matter their gender, has the right to have their voice heard and their vote counted,” said Whitmer. “I’m proud to serve hardworking Michiganders alongside the historic number of women elected to office, but our work is not done. We must continue to fight so that in another 100 years, our grandchildren can look back on this moment as the point when Michigan’s women finally secure equal pay for their work, have autonomy over their bodies, and hold even more positions of leadership.”
In recognition of the 100th anniversary, the PWC announced a state-wide listening tour that will take place this summer, providing opportunities for Michigan women to share the issues most important to them. With ten expected stops, legislators from both the House and Senate will host town hall events.
“As we celebrate 100 years of making our voices heard, we must also recognize there are current policies in place that put women’s autonomy and freedom in jeopardy,” said Pagan. “The future generations of Michigan depend on us to work together, reject laws that stifle women’s empowerment and advance progressive policy that benefit women. Our Listening Tour is an important step toward achieving this across Michigan, and I look forward to the discussions my fellow PWC members and I will facilitate with women from their communities.”
2019 also marks the beginning of the 100th state Legislature, with a record number of women serving as elected officials. Between the House and Senate, 53 women were sworn in for this class of legislators and beyond this, Michigan’s Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General are all women. In addition to this unprecedented number of women holding leadership positions at the state level, Michigan is also represented by an increased number of women in the U.S. House and Senate.
“This milestone anniversary is more than cause for celebration; it also gives us an opportunity to reflect on women’s journey towards equality,” said Brinks. “Though we have come so far, we have much further to go. Just like the suffragists that came before us, we must continue to fight for equality despite any roadblocks we may encounter along the way."
“Our democracy is at its best when all voices are heard,” said Benson. “This may begin at the ballot box, but we can’t let it end there. In order for women to have a seat at every table where decisions are made, we must continue to follow in and expand upon the pathways paved by the activists who came before us with courage and determination.”