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Governor Whitmer Takes Action to Strengthen Michigan's Efforts to Achieve Gender Equity, Build Greater Economic Security for Women

On the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Equality Day, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced in a video statement that the Michigan Women’s Commission (MWC) will move from the Department of Civil Rights to the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO). Placing the Women’s Commission in LEO will enhance the capacity of both bodies to address the economic issues Michigan women face every day. 

“From day one of my administration, I have made a commitment to building a stronger, more equitable state. And we can't call Michigan a home for opportunity unless Michigan women are afforded the same opportunities to be successful,” said Governor Whitmer. “After speaking with women across the state, it’s clear that the economic issues we face, including pay equity, available and affordable childcare, paid parental leave, and the need for more women in leadership roles, can best be addressed when the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the Michigan Women’s Commission work directly together. When this group of leaders work together, we can help ensure women across Michigan are treated with the same dignity and respect as their male counterparts, no matter their race, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation.”   

During a series of conversations facilitated by the Michigan Women’s Commission across this state, the women of Michigan expressed directly to Governor Whitmer that economic security is the biggest barrier to achieving gender equity. From these conversations the Commission outlined their 2020-21 priorities which will work to achieve economic security. To address these goals, Michigan women overwhelmingly cite pay equity, available and affordable childcare, paid parental leave, and the need for more women—and a more diverse group of women—in leadership roles in government, business, academia, and nonprofits as priorities. They also highlight the need for more equitable and affordable access to the types of training and education that lead to better paying jobs. Across all conversations, Michigan women expressed the importance of centering the most marginalized communities and the most affected populations in every policy decision. 

"Michigan women have told us time and time again that in order to achieve gender equity we need pay equity, affordable and accessible childcare, and more women in leadership,” said Cheryl Bergman, MWC Executive Director. “The Commission listened to these women, and is proud to take this next step with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. I am confident that by working together we can unlock opportunities, uplift women in leadership, address pay equity head on, and work hand in hand to move Michigan closer to gender equity.” 

“This is a significant step forward for both LEO and the Commission as we work toward expanding opportunity and prosperity for all Michiganders. We are proud to work alongside these incredible leaders to deliver change that is seen and felt by women across the state,” said Jeff Donofrio, LEO Director. “Michigan women deserve action, and LEO will support the Commission to accomplish their priorities and achieve gender equity.” 

Governor Whitmer has been committed to achieving gender equity for Michigan women since she was sworn into office. The first month in her administration, the governor signed an executive directive to ensure pay equity for state employees. The governor’s cabinet and executive office staff are also more than two thirds women. In her state of the state address this year, the governor also highlighted the importance of ensuring a healthy pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care for all Michigan women who choose to have a baby. 

Under Executive Order 2020-171, the executive director of the Commission, will serve as the chief executive officer and provide executive direction and supervision of the Commission’s activities. Additionally, the governor will designate a chairperson and a vice-chairperson of the Commission from among its members.  

To view Executive Order 2020-171, click the link below:  

To view the governor's video statement, click the video below: