International Women’s Day 2015 – “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity”


(BERKELEY, CA)— Bay Area immigrant and refugee women will mark International Women’s Day at the Berkeley Adult School on Saturday March 14, 2015. The event titled “Celebrating Our Connections” is one of the first times that diverse groups of Asian and Pacific Island communities are coming together to celebrate the international holiday.

Nwe Oo, community advocate for Burma refugees at Community Health for Asian Americans said, “My first Women’s Day Celebration was as a child where the boys in our school made lunch for us. Then as I got older, we went to the streets and rallied for women’s safety and lives.” She continued, “How many people here in the U.S. know about International Women’s Day? It is important for us to celebrate women in this country. Women’s rights are human rights.”

Women from over 8 communities including Bhutanese, Burmese, Cambodian, Mongolian, Nepali, Pacific Islander, Tibetan, and Vietnamese, as well as American-born Asian and Pacific Islanders will be participating in the festivities. Local advocates are working together to create an event that celebrates culture and connection, as well as highlights inspirational women from these respective communities. Because English is often a second, third, or even fourth language to many women participants, activities will include interacting with each other through food, dance, traditional clothing exchange, a photo booth, and games. Local women vendors from each community will also be on hand to share their crafts and handiwork.

Pysay Phinith, a community advocate for the Cambodian community at Asian Community Mental Health Services said, “Events like these are very powerful, because when our communities come here, they are very isolated.” The celebration is part of a larger Asian & Pacific Islander Women’s Initiative, which has organized Women’s Summits since 2013 to empower and connect newcomer communities for health and wellness as they adapt to the United States.

The March 14th event is being co-hosted by three East Bay community mental health organizations, namely Community Health for Asian Americans, Asian Community Mental Health Services, and Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants, and is funded through Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services and the Mental Health Services Act. “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity” is this year’s UN’s theme for International Women’s Day. Oo, who is also a women’s right activist at the international level states, “API women connecting is important for political dialogue. Our voice is never heard. It is important to be involved in political participation here in the Bay Area and in this country.”

The free celebration will take place from 3:30-7:30 at the Berkeley Adult School, entrance on Francisco Street. For more information, please contact Amy Lam, Health Equity Program Director at Community Health for Asian Americans at 530-848-6600.