LANSING — Several members of the Progressive Women’s Caucus will be among the 7,500 people anticipated to converge on the Michigan State Capitol on Saturday afternoon to take a stand against the legislative agenda of President Donald Trump and extremist Republicans in Washington and Lansing. The Women’s March on Lansing is a sister event of the Women’s March on Washington, which is expected to draw 200,000 or more participants to Washington, D.C., on the same day.
“The results of the November election told us that this is no time to back down from demanding equal rights and opportunities for women, and we’re taking part in the march to let the women of Michigan know that we fight for them,” House Democratic Floor Leader state Rep. Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) said. “We must press forward and continue to demand justice and equality for women in the boardroom, in the classroom, in the pocketbook and at home.”
Planning for the March on Washington began the night of the November election. The grassroots effort for peaceful but determined protest grew out of alarm over perceived misogyny during the presidential campaign, President Trump’s admissions of groping women without consent, and attacks on women and minorities during and after the campaign. Plans for local marches, including the one in Lansing, subsequently sprung up across the country.
“We must make sure that women’s voices are heard loud and clear, and that leaders in Lansing and Washington know we won’t allow ourselves to be treated unjustly,” Progressive Women’s Caucus Chairwoman state Rep. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said. “The Progressive Women’s Caucus is proud to join with women from across our state, and to lead the effort to bring women full equality.”
Policies that would help all Michigan workers — including mothers — care for their families are needed in Michigan. The Progressive Women’s Caucus favored legislation in the past session that would allow nearly all Michigan workers to accrue earned, paid sick leave. Republicans blocked the effort.
“I am excited that thousands of women are marching today at the state capitol. We will continue to fight for women and all Michiganders on issues like earned paid sick time,” state Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) said. “Forty-six percent of Michigan’s private sector workers, many of them working moms, do not have access to earned, paid sick time. That means that women across Michigan are forced to work sick because they can’t afford to take a day off. That also means that women are taking their children to school or child care sick because they can’t take time off, or have to lose part of their pay check in order to care for their loved ones when ill. We must continue to fight for earned paid sick time and other issues affecting Michigan women and moms.”
Women in Michigan contend with a wage gap that has women earning, on average, 77 cents to each dollar earned by a man. For women of color, the gap is even larger. As long as the wage gap persists, women will struggle to provide for their families, and Michigan children will suffer.
“When a woman works as hard as a man and does the same job as a man, she should get the same paycheck as a man,” state Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township) said. “It’s a matter of basic fairness, and most people support it, but House Republicans have blocked efforts to make pay equity a part of Michigan law. I’m joining the march because every woman in our state is entitled to equality.”
The Progressive Women’s Caucus has also led the fight to end sexual assault on campus, and to protect women from domestic and partner abuse.
“Violence against women impacts almost everyone, and yet our proposed legislative solutions have received very little attention,” said state Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), who was unable to attend. “We introduced legislation to prevent landlords from evicting survivors of violence because they called the police, as well as legislation to stop employers from terminating employment for survivors of violence seeking medical care. Unfortunately, these bills never even received a committee hearing. Among the marchers on Saturday, there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of survivors of rape and gender-based violence. It is so important to send a strong message to survivors that they are not alone and that we will stand together to end violence against women once and for all.”
Ensuring that women have access to affordable health care is another top priority for the Progressive Women’s Caucus. The future of the Affordable Care Act and the related Healthy Michigan Plan is uncertain, which could mean that 600,000 Michiganders will lose the health care they just gained access to in 2014.
“The future of health care is uncertain, leaving many women to worry about their ability to get medical care for themselves and their families,” state Rep. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) said. “The Progressive Women’s Caucus and Michigan House Democrats have always fought for excellent and affordable health care, and we’re not stopping now. I’m marching in Lansing because I care about women’s health, and I will work hard to make sure every woman can get the care she needs.”
The Progressive Women’s Caucus members will always stand against efforts to attack a woman’s ability to earn a fair wage, access affordable health care and provide for their families. Fighting for women and their families will always be its priority.
“The women of our state are counting on elected leaders to level the playing field and ensure women have the same opportunities and rights as anyone else,” Rep. Pam Faris (D-Clio) said. “Our state will never be as strong and vibrant as it can be until women are free to reach their full potential.”