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Leaders in their Communities but Not in Elected Office; A New Report Calls for More AAPI Women Political Candidates

Leaders in their Communities but Not in Elected Office; A New Report Calls for More AAPI Women Political Candidates

PR Newswire

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women are respected leaders of nonprofit organizations but their leadership is less represented as candidates for elected office, according to a new brief released today.

The brief, a collaboration between the National AAPI Power Fund, New American Leaders Action Fund, and Groundswell Action Fund, explores why AAPI women lag far behind men when it comes to running for elected office. It also offers recommendations to increase the number of AAPI women candidates for elected or appointed offices.

"Elected AAPI women will prioritize the community and its issues," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA., who is featured in the brief. Jayapal was the Executive Director of OneAmerica before deciding to run for Congress in 2016, winning her race. "We are more likely to lift up and be courageous about prioritizing these issues."

According to the brief, there are 47 AAPI women state legislators, comprising just 32% of the 149 AAPI state legislators in the country. Approximately seven out of every ten AAPI state legislators are men, almost exactly opposite the percentage for nonprofit leadership.

"Women of color, led by Black women, have led real change in our communities for decades and most recently, in the 2018 blue wave in Congress," said EunSook Lee, Director, National AAPI Power Fund. "But women of color organizers and movement activists are rarely seen as the ones who should run for public office. Our organizations joined together to shine a national spotlight on the greater need to elect more progressive women of color by examining AAPI women as a subset of this important constituency."

The brief also shows that AAPI women would be strong, progressive candidates, more so than AAPI male candidates, and that if more AAPI women ran for office and won, progressives would win big. AAPI women are consistently more progressive than AAPI men. In 2018, 73% of AAPI women supported the Democratic candidate for Congress, compared to 69% of AAPI men.[1]

"As the country and virtually every state and local jurisdiction have witnessed, progressive, elected women of color, while still the vast minority, are leading the resistance to the White House," said Sayu Bhojwani, founder and president of New American Leaders Action Fund. "AAPI women and women of color in office are champions of a multiracial democracy, and investing in recruiting and training more candidates will bring us closer to the America we want to be."


  • 92% of women versus 86% of men supported closing the gender wage gap
  • 77% of women versus 74% of men supported the DREAM Act
  • 82%of women versus 76% of men supported more strict gun laws
  • 81% of women versus 78% of men opposed racial profiling

There are three obstacles blocking AAPI women from running: they are not seen as political leaders, people are hesitant to donate money to them, and they have to be repeatedly asked to run for office.

"In many Asian American families with resources, parents typically are encouraging their children to become doctors or engineers; becoming an elected official isn't even on the radar," said Stephanie Chang, Michigan State Senator and the first Asian American woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature. "I needed a lot of encouragement to decide to run for office. I shadowed Rashida [Congresswoman Rashida Talib from the 13th District in Michigan] at the State Capital so I could visualize myself doing the job."

Among the recommendations to address this issue:  A new training program to recruit and develop AAPI women as candidates and campaign staff could open up new avenues for AAPI women to begin to run for office in greater numbers.

"While we, and our grantee partners, understand the importance of winning individual elections or policy fights, the long-term prize is creating and sustaining a truly inclusive, participatory democracy with leaders who come from and reflect our communities," said Quanita Toffie, Groundswell Action Fund Senior Director. "It's time to recruit existing AAPI women community leaders and organizers to run for office."

In addition to a training program, the brief recommends a broader movement to elevate AAPI women leaders, resourcing new and more political giving circles and AAPI affinity groups within mainstream women's political fundraising network, and building a pipeline for AAPI women, including an internship program.

Read the brief: https://aapipower.org

The National AAPI Power Fund (Power Fund) was established to harness the energy, enthusiasm, and potential of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for progressive impact in 2020 and beyond.

New American Leaders Action Fund (NALAF) is a 501(c)(4) organization focused on building a democracy that represents and includes all people by engaging new voters, supporting New Americans as they run for office, and expanding civic engagement.

Groundswell Action Fund (GAF) was founded on a simple, but revolutionary, premise: In order to achieve a fair and just society, those who are most excluded from our democracy must be at the center of transforming it. GAF's mission is to strengthen U.S. movements for reproductive and social justice by resourcing electoral organizing and power-building efforts and centering the leadership of Black women, Indigenous women and transgender and gender non-conforming people of color.

Cision View original content:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/leaders-in-their-communities-but-not-in-elected-office-a-new-report-calls-for-more-aapi-women-political-candidates-301139273.html

SOURCE The National AAPI Power Fund

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