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Women Hope to Lead the Way with "MI Lead" Coalition

PHOTO: A new coalition including the National Organization for Women, American Civil Liberties Union, and League of Women Voters hopes to change the tone of women's issues at the state capitol. Photo credit: Phillip Hoffmeister/Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: A new coalition including the National Organization for Women, American Civil Liberties Union, and League of Women Voters hopes to change the tone of women's issues at the state capitol. Photo credit: Phillip Hoffmeister/Wikimedia Commons.
January 27, 2015

LANSING, Mich. - When it comes to the health, safety and economic security of women in Michigan, a new coalition says it's time for a change in direction.

The new nonpartisan group is called MI Lead, and is made up of civil rights, health, labor and advocacy organizations from across the state. MI Lead Coalition co-director Lara Chelian says the goal is to make Michigan a leader in women's rights, and to move the needle when it comes to issues that impact a woman's ability to gain an education, work, raise a family and access health care in the state.

"There's a lot of frustration, and we absolutely understand that," she says. "They're not being paid attention to. Their voices aren't being heard with the issues that matter to them and their family."

Many women's rights groups and activists have accused the Republican-led Legislature of waging a "war on women" after it passed a number of controversial measures, including one that requires women to purchase a separate insurance rider for abortion services.

Chelian acknowledges that while the legislative climate in the state continues to be challenging, she has sensed momentum growing among women when it comes to taking control of their situation. She points to the formation of the coalition, which includes the Michigan National Organization for Women, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, and the League of Women Voters as a good sign.

"Maybe our voices will start being heard because we won't back down," says Chelian. "One unified message is always stronger than a lot of different messages."

Chelian says she hopes Michigan women will continue to speak out and educate themselves about issues that affect them. She anticipates that activism now will eventually translate to more women lawmakers in the state.

Michigan is currently ranked 33rd in the nation in the percentage of women in the state Legislature.

The MI Lead Coalition will officially launch Tuesday at 1 p.m., at the Women's Hall of Fame in Lansing.

More information on the MI Lead Coalition is at their website at www.mi-lead.com.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI