(L-R) Eboni Taylor, Danielle Atkinson, Rep Tlaib, Kelli Garcia and Sen. Kamala Harris were some of the panelists at the Mothering Justice forum. (Courtesy Photo)

By George Kevin Jordan

It was a meeting of the minds as Mothering Justice held a discussion panel with some of the countries top leaders to discuss issues that dramatically impact women, mothers and families.

Several attendees gathered at the American Federation of Teachers on New Jersey Ave. NW,  as well as online for the livestream of the event. In attendance were Rep. Bed Haaland, (D-MI), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and a host of other thought leaders and policy makers.

Mothering Justice is a statewide organization based in Michigan dedicated to empowering mothers to lobbyists. The organization works in advocacy, leadership development, and voter engagement.

Key agenda items for the organization is raising the minimum wage, family medical leave insurance (FMLI), maternal justice– which champions issues of infant and maternal mortality and sustaining safety net programs for mothers and families such as SNAP and Medicaid.

Rep. Tlaib shared stories of real women, her constituents facing inequities in Michigan, from the shutting down of day care programs, to lead in the water, saying,  “It’s really important as we look at these policy issues that we also uplift these stories, and if we do nothing what that looks like.”

“It’s hard out here. I am very vulnerable cause I’m like ‘what do you mean you don’t understand why people are on the food line when there’s a shutdown? ‘Well why can’t they get a loan?’ That’s the reality of what we have in Congress,” Tlaib said.

“The movement outside the halls of Congress is where things are going to happen.”

One of the main issues on the table was Labor Project for Working Families.

“When we don’t have paid medical leave, families lose money,” said Carol Joyner, director of the Labor Project for Working Families (LPWF) with Family Values at Work (FV@W)

“These are purely economic issues. We’re hoping we see the strongest paid leave bill out of Congress to cover [those] who need time to welcome a new baby, take care of someone sick in their family or take care of themselves.”

Sade Moonsammy, director of operations and strategic planning for LPWF with FV@W, said it’s also important to address our ever expanding concept of family.

“It’s also talking about the definition of family and who’s involved in family. This is an issue beyond women. This is a non-binary issue, it’s a trans issue; this is how we look at all the intersections of family. It doesn’t matter if it passes, if families are cut out of it.”

“Before you can fix any problem you have to know it’s happening,” Rep. Lawrence said. “When you look at poverty in America the largest group is women and children. A woman in poverty- almost 60 percent of her pay goes to childcare. When we look at the largest amount of student debt it’s women.”

Sen. Harris brought home the fact that mother’s issues is everyone’s issue saying, “What is good for the mothers of our country is good for the babies of our country, is good for our country.”

“There have been many times when people come up to me and say ‘Kamala tell us about women’s issues.’  And I say, ‘You know what I am so glad you want to talk about the economy.’ Because we know when you lift up the economic status of women, you lift up the economic status of families of neighborhoods and community and all of society.”

Danielle Atkinson, founding director of the organization said next steps for  Mothering Justice, is to “continue to push this issue in the state.”

“We are organizing, but we want to continue to raise these issues and make sure they are front and center in 2020,” Atkinson said.  “In all of those races the presidential, the congressional, those candidates are forced to address these issues and what their plan is to solve them.”For more information about Mothering Justice and their movement please go to https://motheringjustice.org/

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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