40 Years

Letter from the CEO

March 1, 2022

Dear Friends and Supporters,

To kick off Women's History Month, Womankind is proud and honored to celebrate a major milestone: 40 years of service!

In 1982, a student from Hunter College's School of Social Work rallied a small group of impassioned community activists to address the lack of services available to Chinese immigrant women experiencing domestic violence in New York City. History was made when the New York Asian Women’s Center (later renamed to Womankind), was born—an organization for Asian women by Asian women during a time when nothing of its kind existed on the East Coast.

Since our founding, we have grown tremendously, but stayed close to our roots, working with and for marginalized communities. In doing so, we have proudly served as a bedrock for New York’s Asian communities. Our highlights include:

  • Having opened and operated the first emergency residence (shelter) serving Asian survivors of gender-based violence of all ages on the East Coast, only six years after the first domestic violence shelter opened in New York City. We now run two.
  • Providing culturally-specific services in 18+ Asian languages and dialects so that survivors feel comfortable and confident building a path to healing in their own language, since many have a limited understanding of English and the various systems around them.
  • Integrating sexual violence and human trafficking services such as legal, housing and employment in direct response to increased and overlapping needs from those we serve.

The vision of our founders and all those that followed have guided the organization forward—through good times and challenging ones. This year alone, we've lost one too many members to utterly senseless violence including Michelle Go and Christina Yuna Lee. For every incident of anti-Asian violence that we hear about, many others go unreported on the news and social media. And as we share this milestone news with you, war is raging in Ukraine—an experience that many in the immigrant and pan-Asian diaspora are painfully familiar with. As we reflect and look to the future, we reaffirm our commitment to anti-violence, anti-oppression and anti-racism work as central to our mission, vision, and goals:

  1. Amplify advocacy work by addressing the inequities that plague our communities to bring about real systemic change at the city, state, and federal levels of government. We will continue to use our power and join forces with community organizations, advocacy groups, legislators, and other passionate advocates to ensure that the voices of survivors are heard.
  2. Increase Womankind’s footprint by serving more historically-underserved groups within the AAPI community, which is not a monolith. Therefore, we cannot have a “one size fits all” approach to serving the many diverse populations.
  3. Elevate our resource development by diversifying our funding streams, enhancing our community-centric fundraising efforts, and focusing on building sustainable partnerships with value-aligned funders. In order to address the increasingly intersectional and changing needs of survivors, growth is essential for deepening and strengthening our programs.

Womankind has persevered through the ups and downs of 1980’s America to today. We could not have done this work without the commitment and passion of staff, board, supporters, and volunteers—past and present—including you. Thank you for your contribution to Womankind’s history. We ask you to join us, not only in celebrating our big 4-0, but also in building for the next 40 years! Please be on the lookout for our 2022 events and announcements as we mark this milestone year in service of survivors of gender-based violence.

With great joy,

Yasmeen Hamza
Womankind CEO