Activists converge on State Capitol to demand Justice for Women
Today’s rally and lobbying effort was a follow up to the June 12th rally that initially brought women and men out to protest those in the Michigan Legislature who attempted to silence female colleagues who dared to use the word vagina when talking about reproductive justice.
Beginning at 10am, some women gathered on the capitol steps to help take copies of a petition signed by over 115,000 people demanding an end to the anti-women legislation passed or proposed in the Michigan Legislature in recent months.
Starting at 11am, the formal rally began that included numerous female speakers from around the state. There were women from the National Organization of Women, the Michigan Nurses Association, Planned Parenthood, Breastfeeding Mothers Unite and Mothering Justice.
An organizer with Mothering Justice was the first to speak and made it clear that this rally and this movement was not just about reproductive justice, but many justice issues. They laid out their plan to fight for what they referred to as Our Mama’s Agenda:
- Paid Sick Days
- Access to Affordable Child Care
- The Elimination of Wage Theft
- A Higher Minimum Wage
- Paid Medical Leave Insurance for Every Worker
The speaker from Mothering Justice stressed that these issues are inseparable and that we need to fight for all of them together. Other women stressed the need to organize and educate about this issue from now until Election day, while others shared person stories about being discriminated and excluded from the political process.
There were several organizations that also had information tables and before the formal rally began there was a spoken word artist who had written two poems in response to the absurdity that a state legislator could not use the word vagina during political debate. There was also a fabulous sing along, where people used traditional songs, changed the lyrics and inserted the word vagina whenever possible. One example was the Beatles song, She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, which was song with the words, Vagina, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.
After the hour-long rally people then went to their State Representative or State Senators office to demand that they vote against any of the proposed legislation that has been detrimental to women’s rights.
We also took time to interview Dani Vilella, an organizer with NOW in Grand Rapids, who also works for Planned Parenthood about the day’s event.