A Nod to Hmong Women
“We build the dream one woman at a time. And she in turn goes out and impacts the world…” That, in essence, sums up the purpose of Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together, a St. Paul-based nonprofit cofounded by Pa Der Vang, St. Kate’s associate professor of social work, in 2000.
On Thanksgiving weekend, Vang was invited by United Hmong Family, Inc. to perform the ribbon-cutting opening ceremony and present the keynote speech at the 39th Annual Minnesota Hmong New Year. She became the first Hmong woman in the event’s history to earn both honors.
During her address, given in both Hmong and English, she spoke of honoring past traditions and empowering women in the patriarchal culture. Here’s an excerpt: “The theme for this year’s celebration is Hmong women and leadership. In that vein, I wish to give you a challenge today. I challenge you to explore ways to lift up the women in your lives.”
The Twin Cities has the highest urban concentration of Hmong in the world — with nearly 70,000 first-, second and third-generations. The three-day event to usher in the Hmong New Year includes traditional food and entertainment, and draws more than 35,000 people to the St. Paul RiverCentre.