At the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, Asian and Pacific Islander American female activists at the non-governmental organization (NGO) forums were confronted with two profound realizations.

First, although they were gathered in an Asian country, they had no organized voice for Asian or Pacific Islander women from the United States to participate in the official UN conference.

Second, although each of them as individuals worked long and hard on their respective issues (safety, economic justice, reproductive rights, equal educational access, health, immigrant and refugee rights, civil rights and LGBTQ rights) their work was not linked in any sustained or meaningful way back home in the United States.

Despite the difficult logistics of organizing in a rain-soaked suburb of Beijing, 100 women came together over two caucuses and pledged to build and sustain a national, progressive, multi-issue movement of API women in the United States when they returned home. A year later, in September 1996, 157 women became the founding sisters of NAPAWF at a gathering in Los Angeles.

The founding sisters identified six issue areas to serve as the platform and foundation for NAPAWF’s work:

  1. Civil Rights
  2. Economic Justice
  3. Educational Access
  4. Ending Violence Against Women
  5. Health
  6. Immigrant and Refugee Rights

To read about all six platform areas at once, click here.