BOSTON, Nov. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- On the heels of the historic victory of the first Asian American and Asian American Woman Mayor in Boston, the Asian American Women's Political Initiative (AAWPI) is launching its expansion to states with a growing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) electorate. For twelve years, the group has been the country's only political leadership organization explicitly focused on increasing political representation of AAPI women. Building on the success of their Massachusetts civic engagement model, AAWPI will expand their fellowship program to Georgia in 2022, as well as North Carolina, Texas and California over the next three years.
"The AAPI community is experiencing a massive awakening in light of anti-Asian hate and racism amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgia mass shooting earlier this year, and our community's role in the broader call for racial justice in this country," said Diana Hwang, Founder and Executive Director of AAWPI. "As AAPI women, we can no longer afford to be invisible. Increasing representation and building political power are key to addressing critical issues our families, our communities and our country are facing today."
Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial population in the U.S., growing 81% between 2000 and 2019, and represent 6.1% of the United States population - but only 0.9% of elected officials are AAPI. According to a 2020 study by the National AAPI Power Fund, New American Leaders Action Fund, and Groundswell Action Fund, there are 47 AAPI women state legislators, comprising just 32% of the 149 AAPI state legislators in the country. As a result, approximately seven out of every ten AAPI state legislators are men.
Founded 12 years ago, AAWPI has recruited, trained, mentored and supported over 100 low-income and immigrant Asian American women in Massachusetts to date. AAWPI alumni are dreamers, anti-eviction activists who experienced eviction themselves, LGBTQ rights advocates, artists and nonprofit entrepreneurs who advocate for racial, economic and gender justice. Over 90% of AAWPI alumni have gone on to volunteer or work on campaigns, become community organizers or run for office themselves. In the expansion of their successful Massachusetts model to a total of five states, AAWPI will create a national pipeline of AAPI women involved in all levels of politics and government - including voter engagement; community building; and elevating AAPI women in politics and leadership positions across the country. The group is currently accepting applications for its Georgia and Massachusetts programs.
As part of its national expansion, AAWPI is launching an advisory council of 27 women and women of color thought leaders, elected officials, funders and grassroots and community leaders that will address current and emerging issues affecting the AAPI community.
Featured AAWPI Advisory Council quotes:
"When women of color lead, it benefits and strengthens all of our communities," said Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. "AAWPI has made a tremendous impact in Massachusetts over the past twelve years, and I am thrilled they are expanding to Georgia and other states. Building and sustaining a pipeline of Asian American and Pacific Islander women ready to lead is essential to advancing racial, economic, and gender justice across the country."
"Democracy can only work if we have true representation," said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. "That is why it's critical that Asian American and Pacific Islander women have a seat at the table in all levels of government and politics. AAWPI is building a more politically empowered community of AAPI women and providing a path to become political leaders and agents of change and justice in our communities."
"Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders must be an integral part of strengthening America's democracy," said EunSook Lee, Director of the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund. "From research from our aligned organization, we know AAPI women are not seen as political talent. By recruiting and developing AAPI women to be involved in politics and government, AAWPI is opening up avenues for AAPI women to begin to run for office in greater numbers."
"We want every year to be a groundbreaking year for Asian American and Pacific Islander candidates," said Christine Chen, APIA Vote. "Making this a reality starts with civic engagement and political participation at the grassroots level. AAWPI is fostering young AAPI women to get involved locally to change the face of leadership in government and politics, and we're excited to see what their expansion has in store for accomplishing these goals."
"One reason why women don't run for elected office is this myth that we need more leadership skills," said Andrew Dew Steele, Founder, Emerge America. "AAWPI is helping to change that myth by mentoring, elevating, and supporting Asian American and Pacific Islander women to find their political voice and power."
"Since the COVID-19 pandemic, violence and racism against the AAPI community, especially towards AAPI women have increased," said Georgia State Representative Bee Nguyen. " As AAPIs, we have been taught to keep our heads down because our parents thought it was safer for us. AAWPI is activating, elevating, and mobilizing Asian American women because we can no longer afford to be invisible. This is how we build political power, have a voice in our democracy, and create lasting change in our communities."
The Asian American Women's Political Initiative (AAWPI) is the country's only political leadership organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women. AAWPI's mission is to ensure that AAPI women have a voice in our democracy. We've built an infrastructure to support low-income and immigrant AAPI women interested in government and politics, women who so rarely see themselves reflected in power but are the leaders we need for our communities. As women of color, we are committed to working in coalition with Black, Latina and Indigenous women to build political power for all our communities. Our shared work to change the system is inextricably tied together. Ultimately, AAWPI's vision is a movement to empower AAPI women that involves and strengthens us all.https://www.aawpi.org/
SOURCE Asian American Women’s Political Initiative