Ladies Love Politics event encourages women to get involved politically


Rep. Winnie Brinks

GVL/Archive Rep. Winnie Brinks

Shelby Pendowski

In light of these statistics and the continual fight for equal gender rights, the Bachelor of Social Work Student Organization (BSWSO) at Grand Valley State University decided to organize the event Ladies Love Politics.

“We cannot live in a society that looks the other way in regards to gender issues,” said BSWSO Vice President, Amanda Martin. “Although we have come a long way, and the women before us did most of the hard work, there are still issues being fought every day that continue to need attention, specifically an increase in women’s involvement.”

At a presentation last year, Clerk Barb Byrum struck a chord with Martin and other members of the BSWSO.

“I instantly was amazed by her charisma and her desire to be a successful woman in the political field and for fighting against the idea of ‘shouldn’t you be at home with your children because they need their mother’ mentality that women often get,” Martin said.

It was under this notion that club members approached their faculty advisor Brandon Youker to pitch the idea of Ladies Love Politics.

“The presenters are all social workers,” Youker said. “It highlights women representatives and one that hopes to be a representative in the profession.”

The speakers for Ladies Love Politics, which takes place on Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the Loosemore Auditorium on the Pew Campus, are Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright from Muskegon, Rep. Winnie Brinks from Grand Rapids and candidate Stephanie Change from district six near Detroit.

“The speakers will be discussing their involvement in the political field and their experiences as women in such,” Martin said. “They will also be talking about the importance of women’s involvement, and an increase in the involvement of women, and why they feel it’s important to have a stronger participation level of woman voters and political figures at local, state and national levels.”

The selection of this topic was fueled by two main factors, according to Youker. The first is the gender inequality within the politics and the “vagina-hatred” movement that occurred when Rep. Byrum was silenced on the House floor after she used the word vagina to describe the female reproductive organ.

Although Byrum will not speak at this GVSU event, the three other politicians will touch on gender inequality in America.

In a 2008 study done by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 37 percent of women identify as Democrats, 33 percent as independents and 24 percent as Republicans. The three speakers for the event all belong to the democratic party.

“All three of these representatives are members of the democratic party,” Youker said. “There are not a whole lot of female representatives in the Republican party.”

However, she added, the purpose of the event is to get all women involved in politics, no matter what their political ideology is.

“This conference is working to empower women and to give attention to the need for more participation,” Martin said. “We wanted only women speakers to show that it can be done and the amazing work that women in the political field are accomplishing right here in Michigan and how they are working to bridge the gap (between) men and women in our government offices.”

The event, organized completely by students, is set to help stimulate attendees’ interest in politics.

“We tend to get mobilized for the presidential election, but we tend be kind of apathetic when we are talking about local government,” Youker said.

Ladies Love Politics is a free event and is open to the public. There will be a discussion following each of the presentations.

“One of the main ways to get things done is by actually doing something, whether that involves politics in general, or voting, grassroots movements, activism, or being aware of the things happening around you,” Martin said. “The work is not anywhere near being done.”