Edison, NJ - On Friday July 25, 2014, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee’s newly launched South Asian American Caucus hosted a luncheon for influential South Asian American women who currently play a key role in the creation of public policy. The luncheon included elected officials, legislative aides, leaders of community organizations, and the Caucus’ County Directors. The luncheon was held at Moghul Restaurant, on Oak Tree Road.
New Jersey Democratic Party Chairman John Currie finds the Caucus' activities encouraging.“Our South Asian American Caucus continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to grassroots activism, empowering minority communities, including women, to be more involved in the political process. We’re heading into the last 100 days before the midterm elections, when things start getting busier on the campaign trail, but this group has already been organizing for months,” Currie said.
“We want to initiate a conversation on how the Caucus can help promote and recruit more South Asian American women in the political arena. Historically, this is a demographic that has been severely under-represented. However, it also a demographic that is rich in talent, skill, and ability” said Dr. Khyati Joshi, co-chair of the caucus.
The luncheon covered a wide range of topics including the sharing of contacts, increasing the visibility of South Asian women in community organizations, and recruiting more women to run for office. In addition, participants discussed the various obstacles and challenges faced by South Asian American women, including biases and stereotypes prevalent within and outside the community. “It is important that we share and learn from our experiences. That is part of the collective effort,” said Edison Councilwoman Sapana Shah.
Afsheen Shamsi, a SAAC steering committee member from Mercer County who is also elected to the Princeton Board of Education said the luncheon was helpful. “We were able to expand our networks and discuss important issues. I am hopeful that these luncheons will be a cornerstone of the caucus,” she said. “I am glad that the caucus is making it a priority to promote South Asian American Women” she added.
Launched in October 2013, the Caucus represents the NJDSC’s strong commitment to the growing and vibrant South Asian communities in New Jersey. South Asian Americans have long supported democratic values, and with a population of over 350,000 in the Garden State, South Asian Americans, and particularly South Asian American women, are poised to be key participants in the Democratic political scene for years to come. The caucus is planning to host this women's luncheon on a quarterly basis.
SAAC Women's Luncheon from Left to Right: Poonam Bhatia - SAAC Bergen County Director; Anju Bhargava - SAAC Essex County Director; Shabnam Salih - SAAC Mercer County Director ; Jasmine Mehta - SAAC Fellow ; Khyati Joshi - Co Chair, SAAC ; Mala Maharana - Board of Education, North Brunswick Township ; Sapna Advani - SAAC Middlesex County Director ; Rashmee Sharma - SAAC Advisory Board Member; Sapna Shah - Council Woman, Edison Township ; Kavita Mehra - SAAC Steering Committee Member; Afsheen Shamsi - Board of Education, Princeton; Veena Iyer - Board of Education, Edison Township.