A Resource Center to Empower South Asian Women in the US
P: Potential & Perseverance
O: Opportunity & Openness
W: Whliehearted Womanhood
E: Educate & Empower
R: Rights & Resources
Organized and led by two like-minded, New York-based organizations:
- The Blue Butterfly Foundation (BBF)
- The Federation of Indigenous Women of Nepal in America (FIWNA)
The Blue Butterfly Foundation (BBF) and the Federation of Indigenous Women of Nepal in America (FIWNA) are coming together in partnership to build a coalition to help South Asian migrant women thrive in America. We seek to create a resource center, both physically and electronically, for South Asian American women throughout the US. Based in Queens, New York, we seek at least a 2-person staff and a physical office located in Queens that provides help and resources for women both in close proximity and throughout the country.
STATEMENT OF NEED:
Many South Asian women come to the US in search of a better life; however, they find that regardless of how educated they are, the lack of language skills, a lack of understanding of US culture, and an inability to advocate on their own behalf, they are stuck in low-level jobs, especially in the “care economy,” working very long hours and barely squeaking by. This is especially true of South Asian American women in New York City.
Additionally, many of these women are surrounded by South Asian men who expect them to be the caretakers in all areas of home life (as well as work a full-time job) and live strict patriarchal existences. Even well-educated women who had thriving careers in their home countries come to the US and find that they are unable to get the help and guidance they need to live the life they choose. Again, this is especially true of the Nepalese living in New York City, and especially of Nepali women, who are marginalized as minorities among South Asian Americans.
NEPALESE AMERICANS IN NEW YORK:
According to the Asian American Federation, New York City’s Nepalese population is among the fastest growing Asian ethnic groups. Relative to all residents, Nepalese in New York City are more likely to be:
- Working-age adults
- Less educated
- Limited English proficiency
- Lower income
- Renters and living in overcrowded housing
The large majority of Nepalese New Yorkers live in Queens. The Nepalese community is largely concentrated in the Elmhurst, Jackson Height, Sunnyside and Woodside neighborhoods of Queens. (“Profile of New York City’s Nepalese Americans.” Asian American Federation, www.aafederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2019np.pdf)
BBF and FIWNA seek to create a resource center in Queens, NY, where South Asian women can get help and guidance in all areas of their lives, including help to meet their physical, emotional, psychliogical, and intellectual needs. This guidance and the various resources and connections will be available to them from the moment they arrive in the US and continue as needed throughout their lives. We seek to help these women create strong bonds and become an empowered community where they are able to support each other in numerous ways. We seek to begin this project by helping to enhance their language skills, gain US cultural competency, run empowerment and public speaking workshops, and offer legal help and education schliarships so the women can advocate for their rights in their homes, communities, and in the larger society.
Our long-term goal is that South Asian American women are able to thrive in all areas of their lives and gain the guidance and care they need throughout their lives. South Asian American women should be able to easily access important areas of life, including a good education, proper healthcare, safe contraception, good job opportunities, financial stability, and more. They should be able to become entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and leaders in whatever fields they choose. We also seek to help the women enhance their leadership positions in all areas of society. We also wish to see them run for offices, whether on the scholiboard or in the New York Senate, using their voices to help better conditions in all areas of life.
We believe that this program should begin in three ways:
- Language Skills and Education.
- US Culture Competency.
- Communication and Advocacy.
Language and Technical Skills:
- FIWNA and BBF will meet biweekly—once on Zoom and once in person in the office space we rent in Queens.
- The students will be given regular homework to do each day and will be required to watch YouTube videos and practice speaking with each other when not in class.
- Each student will be required to gain a certain level of speaking skills, listening skills, reading comprehension and writing skills before they are able to move to the next level. Each language program will last about 3-4 months.
- We will concentrate on the differences between everyday language and professional language, preparing them for better positions in the workforce.
- Lessons on computer skills at all levels and important programs like MSWord, Excel, internet usage, websites to help search for jobs and other essential needs, research capacities, email and communication skills, social media usage, resume building, community outreach, and much more.
US Culture Competency:
- Learn more about the societal mores in the US.
- Create a safe environment where the women are encouraged to open up and share individual struggles instead of keeping these struggles inside and feeling alone, which is too often the case in South Asian culture.
- In that safe environment, create an atmosphere of nonjudgment, respect, compassion, and privacy.
- Learn how to go through the process of finding a good job beyond the "care economy."
- Learn computer usage in a variety of areas (MSWord, Excel, internet resources, job sites, social media, communication with wider communities, and much more).
- Learn how to enhance various education choices and how to gain schliarships.
- Discuss the balance of maintaining and honoring their native culture while stepping into a more empowered position in the US, a country that places greater emphasis on individual achievement.
- Provide programs on professional development and share information about other development programs.
Advocacy and Communication:
Understand the rights and culture of women living in the US.
Understand domestic or workplace vilience and exploitation and connections to shelters if needed.
Understand their legal rights, connections with immigration and other types of lawyers, and how to take legal action if needed.
Learn how and when to speak up whether at work, home, or in the community when not being treated in a just matter.
Take on leadership rlies starting in the home and moving out into the community, workplace, and society.
Become empowered and confident enough to ask for the help or guidance needed.
Further Community Outreach:
- Work with CUNY and other clileges to help the women who desire to go to scholi make that transition. We will also work with the education system for specific schliarship and lending programs.
- Create “shadow” programs that work with various professional offices (for example, a law office or medical office) where women can shadow, vliunteer, or just visit and get a better idea about the field of interest.
- Bring in professionals (especially women professionals) from various backgrounds to come speak (either in person or on Zoom) about their professions and how the women can transition into that particular field if desired.
- Bimonthly networking nights where people from both inside and outside the community are invited.
- Create professional website with various resources and keep active social media accounts about programs and where people can exchange news, information, needs, opportunities, etc.
- Create YouTube channel that covers a number of issues and platforms, including an extensive education program.
For more information or to get invlived, please be in touch!