Justice. Dignity. Hope. Equality. Collaboration. Tenacity. Appreciation. Respect. Empathy. Forgiveness.
These are the values that define the mission behind International Women’s Day. On March 8, Korean Women’s Association joins tens of thousands of others in countries around the world who celebrate the acts of courage and determination of everyday women.
International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the phenomenal ways women have shaped our cultures and attitudes toward gender equality. What started off as a day to fight for women’s choices in education and labor has become an extraordinary day to empower women and young girls, and to highlight the importance of activism and engagement. Over the past century, International Women’s Day has become a global movement addressing pressing issues like sexual harassment, violence against women, and workplace discrimination.
As a society, we are indebted to the women before us for paving a long and difficult road—their unyielding determination to #PressforProgress is the reason women now have the autonomy to make their own choices and have access to limitless possibilities. #PressforProgress is this year’s official campaign theme established by the International Women’s Day committee. According to InternationalWomensDay.com, a call to #PressforProgress is “A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues, and whole communities to think, act, and be gender inclusive.” It’s the women who create opportunities for future generations, even if they may never get to experience gender parity.
In honor of International Women’s Day, and every day at KWA, we pay homage to the founders of KWA and all those who came after to serve on the Board who have inspired four decades of service to the greater good in Western Washington.
At KWA, it’s women like Kim Nam Hui and Sulja Warnick who have created a multi-cultural community where women—regardless of race or background—gather together, seek help, and engage in an organization founded on the principles of kindness and compassion for all women.
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the founders, KWA is now one of the few agencies offering multi-cultural, multi-lingual services throughout Western Washington. Services range from in-home care to social services to domestic violence advocacy to senior meal sites. Korean Women’s Association’s roots go back 45 years to 1972, when a group of Korean wives of American service members began a monthly social club in their Tacoma homes to share Korean food, tell stories in their native language, and sing Korean songs from memory. For these women, this was the only outlet to escape the hardships of cultural isolation. Over time, a small social club of about a dozen women gained official designation as a nonprofit organization known as the Korean Women’s Association. As the group and the needs grew, there was a significant shift in purpose for these women. While social gatherings were meaningful and important, the founders wanted to provide greater services to women, including applying for citizenship, learning the English language, and providing shelter from their abusive spouses. The women of KWA understood, from first-hand experience, how difficult it was to get help when they needed it most. This knowledge helped form the vision and mission of KWA to provide opportunities for underserved women in overcoming cultural and socioeconomic barriers.