The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Michigan Women's Groups: Still Work to Be Done in Quest for Equal Opportunity
Feature Story by Tyler Lewis - 9/1/2005Celebrations took place around the country late last week commemorating Women's Equality Day - the anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the ability to vote.
In Michigan, several events throughout the state highlighted the progress that has been made, but also called attention to the inequities that still exist for women.
Llenda Jackson-Leslie, President of the National Women's Political Caucus called Women's Equality Day, "a perfect opportunity to reflect on women's progress."
Organizations in Michigan including the League of Women Voters-Kalamazoo, YWCA-Kalamazoo, Detroit NOW, Women's Commission, and Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) held luncheons and panel discussions on the challenges that women in Michigan still face and the potential impact of the so-called "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative" (MCRI), should it qualify for the 2006 ballot.
Sponsored by former California Regent Ward Connerly, MCRI would end equal opportunity and state affirmative action programs in higher education, employment, and contracting.
Jackson-Leslie said, "While the state has made progress in the last 30 years, we also have to acknowledge that Michigan women suffer from one of the worst wage disparities in the nation. And affirmative action, one of the most reliable tools to boost equal access to employment for women, is now threatened by a constitutional ballot amendment introduced by California millionaire Ward Connerly."
Michigan women still face challenges in their struggle for equal opportunity, especially in gaining access to educational and employment opportunities. Currently, Michigan ranks as the second to last state with the largest wage gap between women and men with women making only 67 cents for every dollar men earn. On the national level, women earn approximately 77 cents for every dollar men earn.
In addition, only 20 percent of women in Michigan have four or more years of college education. Connerly's initiative would eliminate university programs that encourage women to enter fields where women are underrepresented and could earn higher wages, thus making it harder for women to earn degrees and attain high paying jobs.
Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm sent a video message that was played at the celebrations in Michigan, emphasizing the importance of efforts to insure that women and their families have access to good jobs, quality health care and better representation in government. Granholm also emphasized the importance of protecting affirmative action policies in employment, education, and contracting.