Mothering Justice, a mother-led nonprofit advocacy and leadership development organization, began in Royal Oak to improve the lives of Michigan families by equipping the next generation of mother activists. Danielle Atkinson, founding director, spoke with Ann Arbor Family Press to explain how Mothering Justice supports Michigan mothers and families.
How did Mothering Justice get started and what is its mission? Mothering Justice developed five years ago out of conversations among a few mother friends. As the mothers were talking, a common theme of our discussions was around working mothers that struggled with financial stability, affordability, and lacking paid leave to take care of children after giving birth or in sickness. We started examining government policies and realized that many companies do not have systems in place to protect and support women in the workplace. We also realized women, especially mothers of color, are disproportionately affected by the lack of these policies. That small group of mothers established the Mothering Justice organization with the mission to mobilize mothers to have a voice in advocacy. Our mama agenda is focused on creating policies that help to eliminate wage theft, create affordable child care, increase minimum wage, and provide paid sick days and family medical leave insurance.
Tell us more about your mama agenda, why are those core issues so important to families? Historically, these issues were devalued as “women’s issues.” Our main goal is to change this narrative because we know they are vital to the health of women and all families. For example, the choice of affordable childcare options should be available to all families. I want my child to be in a place where they are learning and are happy. If my child is not happy, I cannot work. This is why we advocate for early childhood education and universal preschool.
How does Mothering Justice work to support the health of families and children? The well being of mothers is vital. A caregivers’ stability dictates the health of children. Adequate maternity leave as well as paid sick leave are critical to the health of families and children.When mothers and family members are sick they are often left with no choice but to forgo pay in order to meet their healthcare needs. Mothering Justice supports policy that would implement sick pay and provide family medical leave insurance from all employers.
What is Mamas’ University? Mamas’ University is a nine-month online fellowship with a holistic approach to developing women leaders. The goal is to provide the tools and resources needed to allow fellows to develop power in their homes, neighborhoods, and communities. Mamas’ University courses will include historical viewpoints on women of color and how we can find empowerment through the lessons of the past.
What can local community members do to get involved in Mothering Justice?
Become a mamavist, a member of Mothering Justice! Mamavists are welcome to host a Mama Conversation in their own home or learning community. Mama Conversations are small in-house meetings with other mothers. At these meetings we talk about our values and discuss how we can change our communities for the better.
Mamas’ Summit Saturday, July 15 9:30am-3pm Registration starts at 9am University of Michigan Campus – Ann Arbor Details available atmotheringjustice.org.
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Learn more about Mothering Justice at motheringjustice.org