CHICAGO FOR REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE RALLY
Led by organizers of color, this rally was organized in response to the abortion bans back in May and in solidarity with the people and communities directly impacted by these draconian policies. NAPAWF played an important role in helping organize the rally, from logistics to communications to having our member, Jaspreet, speak at the rally. Other co-sponsoring organizations include Chicago Abortion Fund, Midwest Access Coalition, and ICAH.
Jaspreet talked about how, while the RHA is an important piece of legislation that would safeguard abortions in Illinois, we ultimately also need to repeal the PNA. She uplifted AAPI voices and our stories in the fight for reproductive justice, the Atlanta chapter’s struggle to push back against the passage of HB41, and the need for immigrant healthcare access and the HEAL Act.
By supporting our involvement in events like this, members and donors like you are helping us bridge deeper connections with other RJ groups in Chicago, raise NAPAWF’s visibility in the RJ movement, build leadership within our base, and ultimately push many AAPI women to become active members of our chapter.
HEAL For Immigrants
Legislative Meetings & Community Events
NAPAWF members nationwide are gearing up to advocate for the HEAL for Immigrant Women and Families Act through community events and meetings with legislators. The HEAL Act Committee, composed of chapter members, has been working diligently to create a local and national strategy to bring awareness, share immigrant health care stories, and build a strong base of community leaders. Your support allowed members across 12 states to organize events and activities throughout the summer to educate and engage families, community leaders, and elected officials on the importance of health care access for immigrant communities.
Closing out Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May, New Mexico chapter leaders (Anni Leming, Sradha Patel, and Jennifer Lim) met with Congresswoman Deb Haaland. They connected on the mission of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and how the new NAPAWF Albuquerque chapter is fiercely bringing this mission to the local community. Chapter members uplifted critical issues and concerns for the AAPI community, including the need to expand healthcare for all immigrant communities. They shared how mobilizing, educating, coalition building, and bringing local communities to action has all been a part of the NAPAWF ABQ’s commitment towards reproductive, economic, and immigrant justice. This meeting opened the door to deeper engagement with Rep. Haaland and building her understanding of the needs of the AAPI community. Chapter members are looking forward to working with Haaland’s office to expand healthcare for immigrant communities and share how passing something like the HEAL Act would support all of our communities.
In early June, Seattle Chapter members Megan Boone, Rosann Mariapurram, and Amber Barcel met with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. The meeting was exciting and productive as they discussed strategies to uplift and fight for issues important to AAPI women including expanding healthcare for immigrant communities. The chapter is excited to continue to build their local engagement in Washington state on immigrant health care access and build a strong organizational coalition. “As an AAPI woman, I am so thankful for Congresswoman Jayapal for fighting alongside our communities to strive for an equitable health care system that includes all immigrant communities,” said Megan Boone.
In early August, Representative Raquel Terán and Representative Greg Stanton joined Arizona NAPAWF chapter members in a powerful event with over 50 people. The stories that were shared highlighted difficulties navigating the health care system, barriers to language access, inadequate cultural competency, skyrocketing prices for medical care/medicine, the importance of access to reproductive health care, and no access to health care as immigrants which leads to fatal health issues in the future that could have been prevented. Rep. Raquel Terán and Rep. Greg Stanton shared their remarks on health care access and look forward to continuing to connect with NAPAWF AZ members. Zeenat Hasan shared, “Currently, most of the undocumented people in the United States are young people under the age of 30. Their paths do not have to be the same as my father’s. There is no world in which people do not need access to healthcare. Diabetes doesn’t care if you have citizenship or the right legal documents. Once it takes over your body, it then consumes the system and all its resources.”
Letter from the Executive Director
As you read this letter, many of you will be packing your bags and getting ready to head out to Washington, D.C. for NAPAWF’s national convening: Power Up. I’m so excited to gather with over 100 leaders from 15 chapters across the country. This gathering is one of learning, growing and building together and I cannot wait to share the next few days with many of you.
As I look back at the last couple of years, I cannot help but be proud and grateful for the work we’ve done together to get to a place where we have over 100 leaders from chapters coming to spend time together to build a brighter, more just future for our communities. In the last couple of years, many of you have shown up on the streets in your own cities and towns, in the halls of Congress, in your legislator’s in-district office, and I’m so excited that we get to do this again this fall with our siblings at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda. This is a historic day on the Hill, where we will have close to 300 women of color advocating for our communities.
While we’re looking forward to having our leaders in Washington, D.C., we’re also looking forward to continuing to grow our power in places that really matter: in districts. We know that the power really belongs to the people and our elected leaders pay attention when people from their district raise concerns. We are excited to continue to journey with all of you as we expand our grassroots organizing to collectively advocate for positive changes so that AAPI women and girls have the agency to make decisions for our own lives, our families and communities.
Whether it’s being a part of a historic gathering in Washington, D.C. or building power in our communities, know that you are making history with us!
Chicago Fighting to Repeal PNA
The Parental Notice of Abortion Act (PNA) is a law that requires youth under the age of 18 to notify their adult guardians in order to have an abortion. Our campaign is about repealing this forced parental involvement and ensuring all pregnant people have a right to decide what is healthy for them. It is the only law in Illinois preventing pregnant people from accessing the medical services they need and blocking them from making decisions on behalf of their own lives, families, and communities. We want to ensure that young people can be safe and protected and that they can have agency and healthy relationships with trusted adults in their lives.
We work on this issue through the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) coalition convened by ACLU Illinois. NAPAWF uniquely represents one of the few organizations at the table that conducts base-building and organizing, and we have been building political and public pressure on elected officials on this issue. We are also working closely with Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH), which originally started the work to repeal the PNA, and we joined them for their intergenerational Trust Youth event in June.
After having legislative visits in April, our members were able to identify what different elected officials needed in order to take a stance on this issue. We have been petitioning in West Ridge and Skokie, as well as Chinatown and Bridgeport, in order to move Sen. Ram Villavalam, Rep. Kalish, and Sen. Muñoz. Since May, we have reached more than 200 petition signatures from constituents in Devon and Skokie, and we are almost halfway to our goal in Chinatown and Bridgeport.
We have another meeting with Rep. Kalish next week, where we plan to equip our members with the constituent support we have built in his district.
Your giving has allowed us to hire four bilingual canvassers, who have been reaching out to immigrant aunties in Mandarin, Urdu, Arabic, Korean, Vietnamese and Bengali.
Gearing up for Power Up
Power Up, our National Conference held in Washington, DC, is only a week away! Chapter Members from all over the country will come together for a powerful weekend of workshops and trainings. Members and supporters will share and develop strategies to fight for change and build meaningful connections to transform our communities.
Participants will learn more about the values, history, and goals of NAPAWF as well as how they themselves can become better advocates and cultivate their skills. Power Up will showcase expertise that lives among NAPAWF and its members, and will demonstrate how organizing for our collective power can advance our priorities to work toward a bold collective vision for our communities.
Attendees will have the opportunity to learn through workshops such as:
Equipped With Knowledge: Your Rights at Protests
Expanding Reproductive and Sexual Health through Medicaid Expansion
Economic Justice for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
At Power Up, we will be unveiling our new AAPI Agenda for Action, a groundbreaking agenda informed by our state and local members. The Agenda will not only make our demands for bold and transformative change clear, but help us better hold our elected officials to the promises they make.
Your giving helps support events like Power Up where we can cultivate leadership in order to build a powerful reproductive justice movement, and where we can make ourselves seen, heard, and fierce in our fight for justice.
NAPAWF, as part of the Intersections of Our Lives Collaboration, holds Senate briefing on women of color polling results
In April, the Intersections of Our Lives Collaboration, which includes NAPAWF, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), and In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, released polling results of women of color across the country. The poll surveyed AAPI, Latina/x, and Black women on the issues that mattered to them most in the 2018 elections and what issues they would like elected officials to prioritize.
On August 1, Intersections of Our Lives hosted a Congressional briefing in the Senate that was hosted by Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and featured remarks from Senator Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada. In-depth results of this polling was presented by Jennifer Wang, NAPAWF Deputy Director of Programs, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Executive Director of National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Marcela Howell, President and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda. Over 50 attendees, most of whom were Congressional staffers, filled the room to hear about the policy priorities that the polling found were extremely important to women of color: access to health care, clean water, and common sense gun laws. The polling also showed that 80% of AAPI women believe that it’s extremely important to vote for candidates who support women making their own decisions about their reproductive health.
Your support is helping us lift up the importance of women of color voters and show policymakers how important it is to take their perspectives into account—which is crucial work as we approach the 2020 elections.
NAPAWF Featured in Congressional Briefing on Abortion Bans
Support from members and donors like you has long helped NAPAWF fight back against reason-based abortion bans that play on racist stereotypes and limit the autonomy of women to make decisions about their lives and bodies. Most recently, on June 13, Senator Patty Murray of Washington, Chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, hosted a Congressional briefing on reason-based abortion bans. Jane Liu, NAPAWF Legal Director, spoke on sex-selective abortion bans and how legislators are using racist stereotypes to push an anti-abortion agenda and make reproductive health care out of reach for AAPI women Other panelists included: Natasha Chabria, Senior Policy Manager of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, who spoke on race-selective abortion bans; Rebecca Cokely, Director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, who spoke on disability bans; and Margaret Conway of Conway Strategic, who discussed effective messaging on reason bans. The panel was moderated by Pilar Herrero, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Over 30 people, mostly Senate staffers, attended the event.
NYC Chapter Getting Councilmembers on Board with Fighting PRENDA
In June, NAPAWF NYC Chapter members celebrated the introduction of a City Council resolution that would condemn a racist and sexist sex-selective abortion ban (also known as a “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act,” or PRENDA) introduced in the NY State Assembly earlier this year. Members had been pushing for this resolution for months before with support from donors like you. To follow up, members identified key Councilmembers they wanted to co-sponsor and champion the resolution.
In their first ever meeting with elected officials, NAPAWF NYC members Nina Guttapalle and Alana G. got Progressive Caucus co-chair Councilmember Ben Kallos to sign onto our city resolution and others introduced by the CIty Council’s Women’s Caucus on women’s and reproductive health and immigration in July. They presented the bill to Kallos’ legislative director, who had not previously heard of sex-selective abortion bans, and shared how dangerous they are by perpetuating harmful sterotypes about the AAPI community. Additionally, they discussed how the ban would create additional barriers for families that already face linguistic and other barriers to healthcare and how the Progressive Caucus can take on this resolution as part of their priorities for the next legislative session in the Fall.
Following on their heels, NAPAWF NYC Chapter member Alex Tuai joined Winnie Ye from the NYC Leaders Team in her first elected meeting in August with the Chief of Staff or Immigration Committee chair Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. Alex and Winnie shared how fighting bills such as PRENDA is a part of the City’s commitment to protecting immigrant New Yorkers, including their families, from attack. Alex and Winnie also introducted CM Menchaca’s office to the dangers of sex-selective abortion bans and secured the councilmember as a co-sponsor to the anti-PRENDA resolution.
NAPAWF is Leading the Fight Against Sexual Harassment of AAPI Women Workers
NAPAWF continues to lead efforts to address sexual harassment of AAPI women workers. While the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace has gained unprecedented attention since the emergence of #MeToo, the voices and experiences of women of color, who are disproportionately impacted by sexual harassment, have often been excluded from the public conversation. NAPAWF has been working to ensure that the conversation about sexual harassment not only includes, but also centers the experiences of AAPI women and other women of color workers.
In May, Jane Liu, NAPAWF’s Legal Director, testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on sexual harassment in federal workplaces and how this issue impacts AAPI women federal workers. Ms. Liu’s testimony focused on the unique ways that AAPI women workers are impacted intersectionally by harassment and the barriers that AAPI women workers face in addressing harassment. Ms. Liu testified that AAPI women workers often face racialized sexual harassment based on stereotypes about AAPI women, and that sexual harassment often occurs in work environments where there are other racial and gender inequities. She stated, “Sexual harassment does not occur in a vacuum. For women of color workers, sexual harassment cannot be separated from racism and other discrimination. Therefore, efforts to address sexual harassment cannot be silo-ed from broader efforts to make federal workspaces more inclusive and more equitable.”
In June, NAPAWF’s legal program filed a formal complaint alleging sexual harassment, race and sex discrimination, and retaliation by the U.S. Department of Treasury against an AAPI woman who was formerly employed by the agency. The employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, was denied a promotion as a Treasury employee when she declined the romantic advances of a supervisor. After she reported the harassment to the agency, the agency granted her the promotion but then retaliated against her by transferring her to another part of the agency. The reassignment doubled her commute and reduced her work responsibilities to data entry. The complaint is now in the investigative stage.
Your support is allowing NAPAWF to begin providing legal services to AAPI women facing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace to ensure that AAPI women workers are heard in the courts and can fight for safe and equitable work environments where they can thrive.
Georgia canvassing efforts for voter defenders
NAPAWF’s new Voter Defenders program, currently being piloted in Georgia, aims to tackle some of the barriers that members of our community face when it comes to voting and civic engagement. Voter Defenders is a labor of love for us; every facet of the program was created based on personal experiences. During the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) cycle in 2018, many Georgians faced voter suppression, a significant portion of whom were AAPI folks.
For example, during the 2018 runoffs, we met an AAPI woman whom we fondly call Benji’s mom (Benji is the name of her adorable dog). We were knocking on doors just a few hours before the election would end, but as we were finishing up, we realized that one of our canvassers were missing. It turns out that the canvasser was helping an elderly Vietnamese woman fill out her absentee ballot. The woman informed us that she voted via absentee ballot because of her disability, but this time, she didn’t receive her ballot in the mail until the day of the election. We didn’t know what to do, so we called the Secretary of State’s office, but they couldn’t give us a clear answer. We then decided to call the Board of Elections office and her polling location. Again, we received uncertain answers. Our last resort was to take Benji’s mom to her polling station to vote. It took a lot of time and effort: We first had to get Benji in his cage; then, we had to find her walker and warm clothes. Finally, we were able to get her to the polling station. She ended up having to sign an affidavit canceling her absentee ballot and voting in person. She was very nervous to the point that even though she knew how to read English, she was having difficulty reading. One of our canvassers ended up translating for her so she could finally cast her ballot.
After this event, I kept wondering how many other people like her were in this position. What was the point of us telling people to vote if, in reality, voting may not be accessible to them due to the government’s failures? That’s when Marién, NAPAWF’s National Field Director, and I came up with the idea of Voter Defenders. If we were in Benji’s mom’s shoes, what support would we need in order to vote? That is what Voter Defenders would provide. First, Voter Defenders would train 20 AAPI women around voting and civic engagement, so that they would be informed and engaged around the issues. Then we would ask them to reach out to their friends and family, especially to the elderly, disabled, or non-English speakers to invite them to short, accessible Know Your Rights trainings. After we build this base and inform the community this year, we hope that by 2020, we can have Voter Defenders as poll watchers and translators, giving rides to polling stations, advocating for policy, and volunteering at polling stations, so that folks like Benji’s Mom can advocate for herself with voter defenders by her side.
However, as I began recruiting for voter defenders, I realized that getting folks like Benji’s mom to join the program was not an easy task. I remember asking my mom why neither she nor any of her friends wanted to become Voter Defenders. She called me out and told me that the way I constructed Voter Defenders would mean it is only accessible for privileged individuals. For example, she and most of her friends work multiple jobs while raising children; some don’t have cars; others are unable to leave their homes. For them coming to a Voter Defenders training or Know Your Rights training was impossible.
Then I thought about how I could engage folks like Benji’s mom and my mom. What do they like to do outside of their busy schedule? What excited them enough to participate? Well, something that my mom enjoys is dawats, which is a Bengali word for “dinner party.” No matter how busy her schedule is every week, she always leaves some space open to spend time with her friends and community. I noticed that this is a commonality amongst most immigrant groups; whether at dinner parties, mahjong nights, or potlucks, we love spending time with our communities. So I thought maybe Voter Defenders could use those spaces to talk about voting rights. Instead of asking our Voter Defenders to host Know Your Rights trainings, perhaps we could host dinner parties at our homes or community centers. We can invite people we are already in community with so that they feel comfortable in a space they trust. Then we can facilitate a conversation around voting rights and share tactics around how we can advocate for ourselves. Hopefully, by the end of this process, we can build trust, community, and excitement around civic engagement.
This type of unique, culturally specific intervention is sorely needed to ensure that our community is able to exercise its full electoral power. Your support makes it possible for us to explore these new, innovative ways of making sure that AAPI women and girls know their rights and can use their right to vote.
You’ve probably noticed that our website - www.napawf.org - has a new look! This redesign has been over a year in the making, and is meant to finally reflect our strategic shift to a grassroots member-focused organization. There is a new “Take Action” portal that lists all the ways visitors can get involved, whether subscribing to our email updates, finding their state on our clickable map of chapters, or becoming a NAPAWF member.
This website also maintains our long history as a resource for policy advocacy and information for AAPI women and girls. There is a new, behind-the-scenes sorting system for our factsheets and other documents that gives NAPAWF’s website room to grow as the intersectional nature of our work adapts in the future. Policy wonks will be able to find what they want faster, and life will be easier for NAPAWF’s webmaster. Our translated materials also get a dedicated shortcut at the bottom of each webpage for quicker access.
Our very first website was launched around twenty years ago. As the times and technology have changed since the nineties, NAPAWF has grown our movement thanks to our dedicated members and volunteers. Your support makes it possible for us to maintain and improve an online portal for information dedicated to building power with AAPI women and girls.