ROYAL OAK — More than 800 progressive women from around the state gathered in Royal Oak for the Progressive Women of Michigan Summit on Saturday, where they listened to leading female elected officials and activists and committed to taking action to bring about pay equity, greater representation in government, gender equality and financial security for Michigan’s working families.
“Now, more than ever, it’s critically important that progressive women come together to fight for the changes we want to see,” said state Rep. Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), who is co-chairwoman of the Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus and who will become the House Democratic Floor Leader in January. “The women who attended the summit got a chance to listen to and speak with some of the most energetic female leaders in our state, and we started work on an action plan that will help us realize our goals.”
Along with Rep. Greig, current and former elected officials who spoke at the event included state Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), former state Democratic Senate Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing), and Congresswomen Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield). Activists who spoke included Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan President and CEO Lori Carpentier, Mothering Justice founding director Danielle Atkinson and Moms Demand Action activist and former state House candidate Nicole Bedi.
The Progressive Women of Michigan Summit was a grass-roots effort led by Julia Pulver of West Bloomfield, who decided to take action after hearing other women talking about what they could do to counteract threats to curb access to reproductive health care, roll back civil rights, destroy public education and reverse marriage equality, among other things. The participants also spoke about the lack of women’s representation in government — while women make up half the electorate, women hold less than 25 percent of state and national elected positions.
“It was truly empowering to see so many engaged and energized women coming together from across the state,” Rep. Pagan said. “These women are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work on the issues that matter the most to us. Michigan’s women have a strong voice, and we’re going to use it to ensure equal pay, gender equality and financial security for all Michigan families. I have always been passionate about standing up for the rights of women, and I’m committed to continuing this fight in my next term in the state House of Representatives.”