22222222Asian American and Pacific Islander women fighting for equality in the U.S.

By Velu Ochoa

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women in the United States have been fighting for equality and justice for generations. From advocating for immigrant rights to combating anti-Asian hate crimes, AAPI women continue to make their voices heard and drive positive change in the United States.

We are highlighting a few of the AAPI women who are fighting today for a more equal nation in honor of AAPI Heritage Month! 

Amanda Nguyen is an American activist and social entrepreneur who is best known for her advocacy work on behalf of survivors of sexual violence. In 2013, Nguyen was sexually assaulted and found that the legal system did not adequately protect or support survivors like herself. As a result, she founded the non-profit organization Rise, which aims to protect the rights of sexual assault survivors and to ensure that their voices are heard and their stories are taken seriously.

Amanda’s advocacy work resulted in the passage of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the United States Congress in 2016. The bill ensures that sexual assault survivors have access to the resources they need to pursue justice and receive the support they need to heal.

In addition to her advocacy work, Nguyen is also a Harvard graduate and a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee. She has been named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list and was awarded the 2019 Human Rights First Award.

Amanda Nguyen has publicly stated her support for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which is a fully-ratified (though not yet published) amendment to the United States Constitution that would guarantee equal legal protections to all citizens regardless of gender. Nguyen has spoken out about the importance of gender equality and has been a vocal advocate for women’s rights throughout her career. She has also worked to raise awareness about the need for stronger legal protections for women and other marginalized groups, particularly in the context of sexual assault and harassment.

Grace Meng Official Congressional Photo

Representative Grace Meng is a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing New York’s 6th congressional district. She was first elected to Congress in 2012 and is currently serving her fifth term. Representative Meng is a member of the Democratic Party and is known for her work on issues related to immigration, small business development, and women’s rights. She is the first Asian American to be elected to Congress from New York State and has been a vocal advocate for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, particularly in the wake of the increase in hate crimes against AAPI individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to her election to Congress, Representative Meng served in the New York State Assembly from 2009 to 2012.

Representative Meng has been a vocal advocate for the ERA, co-sponsoring a resolution in 2019 to remove the deadline for ratification of the amendment. She has also participated in events and rallies in support of the ERA, and has spoken out about the importance of the amendment in guaranteeing equal rights for all Americans. In March 2021, the House of Representatives voted to remove the deadline for ratification of the ERA, with Representative Meng being among the co-sponsors of the resolution.

Mazie Hirono, official portrait, 113th Congress

Senator Mazie Hirono is a Democratic senator representing the state of Hawaii in the United States Senate. She was first elected to the Senate in 2012 and was reelected in 2018.

Prior to serving in the Senate, Hirono represented Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013. She was also the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii from 1994 to 2002.

Hirono is known for her progressive views on issues such as health care, climate change, and immigration. She is the first Asian American woman and the first Buddhist elected to the Senate.

She is also a strong advocate for women’s rights and a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, and has cosponsored legislation in the Senate to remove the time limit for ratification of the amendment. She has argued that the ERA is necessary to ensure that women have equal rights and protections under the law, and that it would be a significant step forward for gender equality in the United States.

Photo by: Montclair Film, via Creative Commons

Mindy Kaling is an American actress, writer, comedian, producer, and director. 

She has been a powerful force in Hollywood, using her platform to uplift other women of color and push for greater diversity in the entertainment industry. She is best known for her role as Kelly Kapoor on the U.S. version of the television series “The Office,” which she also wrote for and produced. She has also created and starred in her own television series, including “The Mindy Project” and “Never Have I Ever.”

Mindy Kaling has been a vocal supporter of equality and diversity. In her work as a writer and producer, she has actively sought to create more opportunities for people of color and women in the entertainment industry. She has spoken out against racism and sexism and has advocated for greater representation and inclusivity in Hollywood. Kaling has also been involved in a number of philanthropic and charitable initiatives focused on promoting education, health, and equality.

Mindy Kaling has expressed her support for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and in 2019, Kaling tweeted her support for the ERA, calling it a “no brainer” and urging her followers to contact their representatives to encourage them to support the amendment. Kaling has been a vocal advocate for women’s rights and gender equality, and her support for the ERA is consistent with her broader commitment to social justice and equal rights.

Via Teresa Siagatonu’s Instagram account @terisasiagatonu

Terisa Siagatonu is a poet, speaker, and community organizer based in California. She is of Samoan descent and her work often explores themes of identity, social justice, and the experiences of the Pacific Islander community.

Siagatonu has performed at various events and venues across the United States, including the White House in 2016, and has been featured in publications such as Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and NPR. She has also worked as a teacher, mentor, and organizer, using her platform to raise awareness and advocate for issues affecting marginalized communities.

Siagatonu is a recipient of various awards and honors for her work, including the Corazón del Pueblo Poetry Prize and the Pacific Islander Community Award. She continues to use her voice and platform to inspire and empower others, particularly within the Pacific Islander community.

Terisa Siagatonu is a vocal supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the United States, and has been an active advocate for its publication.

She has written and performed poems advocating for the ERA, and has spoken publicly about the importance of gender equality and the need for legal protections against discrimination. In an interview with NBC News, Siagatonu stated that: “the ERA would ensure that gender equity is not just a conversation, but a law that protects and acknowledges the rights of women and non-binary folks.”

AAPI women play an important role in the fight for a better social and political landscape. As the United States continues to grapple with issues of systemic racism and inequality, the voices and actions of AAPI women are more important than ever in driving positive change and creating a more just and equitable society for all.