To-wen is a previous TV reporter turned freelance journalist who writes about early education and maternal+infant health for a variety of publications. She had a rude awakening when returning to her previous newsroom after giving birth to her first child. Since then she has been dedicated her career to advocating for family-friendly policy and gender equity at the workplace. To-wen was recoginzed by US Breastfeeding Committee as an Emerging Leader of the year in 2019. She is also an award-winning blogger and a national best selling author in Taiwan.
Blog Post List
July 25, 2019
August is National Breastfeeding Month. My colleagues at the Asian Breastfeeding Task Force of Los Angeles are hosting photo exhibits in the San Gabriel Valley and downtown Los Angeles, in which 17 local moms joined this movement. Los Angeles is home to the largest Asian American population in the U.S. with over half a million Asian Americans and 7,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders reside in the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. Almost half of Asian Americans in the San Gabriel Valley are limited English proficient, yet less than 6% of lactation professionals in Los Angeles County...
May 15, 2019
I have a story about persistence. In 2013, a self-describe “ largest Chinese-language newspaper serving North America ” published a controversial article. Titled “ Breastfeeding photos embarrass Chinese-American to death ,” the piece cited anonymous resources, labeled breastfeeding photos as “R-rated-photos,” described breastfeeding images as “disturbing” and “disgusting.” At that time, I just returned to work after a 3-month-long maternity leave to that particular newspaper as a staff writer. And yes, I was breastfeeding. I certainly felt shocked by that article and tried to talk to the...
February 4, 2019
A while ago, a teacher from my 5-year-old son’s Saturday Chinese School gave out candy rewards. My husband and I felt uncomfortable about this. We have opinions about candy. I don’t eat candy. I don’t spend my grocery money on candies. With that being said, there is no candy under my roof. When my children were offered candies, I say no for them before the they were three. When my first child turned three years old, I first taught him what candy would do to him, and then taught him how to turn down unhealthy foods. However, at special occasion like some kids’ birthday parties, or when my...
October 31, 2018
“Public charge” is part of federal immigration law for over a century. The “public charge” test is designed to identify people who may depend on the government as their main source of support. If the government determines that a person is likely to become a “public charge,” it can deny a person admission to the U.S. or lawful permanent residence, or “green card” status. On October 10, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed to change this long-standing policy by excluding anyone who is likely to use certain health care, nutrition or housing programs in the future. The proposed test...
August 2, 2018
It is World Breastfeeding Week ! The slogan of World Breastfeeding Week 2018 is "Foundation of Life". And just recently, my 7-month-old and I had an exciting opportunity that reflects the #WBW2018 slogan: to participate in the production of a series of Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care Training videos. The series of videos is to help train child care facilities on how to be breastfeeding friendly. I was so grateful for this opportunity. As a nursing mother, I am not only open and willing to, but do consider it’s absolutely important to support this kind of projects. Because they recognize the...
July 17, 2018
The U.S. Delegation to the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly (WHA) undermined a global resolution aimed at supporting breastfeeding, threatening trade sanctions against Ecuador before yielding to a proposal put forth by Russia, reported by the New York Times . The draft resolution was to reaffirm that breastfeeding is critical for child development and maternal health, to express concern over low rates of breastfeeding worldwide, and to call on WHO Member States to increase investment and implementation in breastfeeding policies, systems, and environmental supports. According to...
February 9, 2018
With jobless rates at multi-year lows in the United States and many other countries, finding talent is becoming a bigger task. Overall employment is expected to grow year on year at 0.7% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the prior decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics . For the country to prosper it must make competitive bids for the talent it needs. To do that, lawmakers must improve our paid leave policy and go beyond the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA is good, but not paid. Millennials value paid parental leave more than earlier generations, so much so that 83% of...
January 12, 2018
Great news from New Jersey this week: Firing or discriminating against women who breastfeed at work is now prohibited under the state legislation signed by Gov. Chris Christie on Monday! No, I don’t live in New Jersey. But I think it is a good example of supporting a welcoming environment to working mothers. Now New Jersey employers would be in violation of the new law, which serves as an update to the state’s civil rights law, for firing or discriminating against a woman over breastfeeding. New Jersey businesses must now also provide break time and a suitable location for breastfeeding women...
December 21, 2017
With a newborn, the days are long but the years are short. My baby turned ten weeks this past weekend. Which means I have two more weeks of maternity leave. Yes, I am on maternity leave. No, maternity leave is not a vacation. To the employers who consider maternity leave is for fun or moms on maternity leave are being lazy, I have something to say. I do want to work. I still deeply care about my career. I’m not taking maternity leave because of laziness. The fact that I love my career does not change because of motherhood. After becoming a mother, I have one more mouth to feed and an example...
November 21, 2017
I am an American but my job allows me to look at America with a foreigner’s eye—I’ve spent most of my career life working as a U.S. based correspondent for a various of Chinese media outlets. Through the years I can’t help it but notice many senseless things in this country’s system. Paid family leave , for one. Gun safety, for another. Last month I wrote a piece on how to talk to kids about tragic events for Taiwan’s Commonwealth Parenting Magazine in light of the Las Vegas shooting. Even though the attack happened here in America, increased anxiety among children in other countries is...
August 21, 2017
Do you remember Joaquin Luna Jr. ? I do. He was a high school kid living in Texas. His family were undocumented immigrants. He was born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. as an infant. In his senior year he applied to college, only found out that he wasn’t an American on paper. After the Senate’s failure to pass the Dream Act , Joaquin felt despair over his immigration status and lost hope of becoming the first in his family to go to college. On the day after Thanksgiving, he put on a maroon shirt and a tie, lay down next to his mother and told her he was sorry he was never going to be the...
August 15, 2017
It is National Breastfeeding Month and I was just in an Asian Breastfeeding Task Force kick-off meeting last week. Healthcare providers in Los Angeles and Orange County came together and formed this task force because they feel it’s clear that there are special and unique cultural and education issues when working with the population and breastfeeding practices. Los Angeles County is home to the largest Asian American population in the US. In 2015, 2/3 of the babies born in Garfield Hospital and half of the babies born in San Gabriel Valley Hospital were Asian, according to data from AHMC...
July 7, 2017
There has been a video circulating on the Internet. It shows Serena Williams playing in the Australian Open, Gal Gadot doing Wonder Woman reshoots, Alysia Montano racing at U.S. Championships, Beyoncé dancing on the stage, Nur Syryani Mohd Taibi shooting at Olympics, all during their pregnancy. The video concluded with “Anything you can do, we can literally do it while growing a human inside of us.” Merely 26 weeks ago, I’d totally agree with the statement. I was a tough cookie during my first pregnancy. I stood under scorching sun for 11 hours to shoot the final landing of Space Shuttle...
June 2, 2017
According to a study published in the journal Women’s Health Issues , 60% of pumping women don’t have basic workplace accommodations or adequate break times. That’s no news. I personally have pumped in many weird places. I returned to work three months after giving birth as a staff writer at a Chinese-language newspaper based in Los Angeles. The company didn't have a nursing room, even though California law requires appropriate reasonable space for pumping . I pumped in the restroom. When there was a line in the restroom, I pumped in my car. When the weather is too warm or the pump battery is...
February 24, 2017
This week, President Donald Trump is preparing to release a second executive order halting travel from citizens of the seven Muslim nations. And I'm taking time to write this post, because I promised my son that I would speak up. His preschool teacher is from Iran. We love her and truly hate to lose a great teacher over a unreasonable ban...
January 6, 2017
Obamacare includes pregnancy, maternal and newborn care in its list of 10 essential health benefits insurance companies must provide for consumers. It requires health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding. It amended the Fair Labor Standards Act so employers with more than 50 workers have to give “new mothers, for up to one year after a child’s birth, with reasonable time to take unpaid breaks to express breast milk for their nursing children.” Under this standard, employers also need to provide mothers a private room that is not a restroom to fulfill her breastfeeding and/or pumping responsibilities. Now, because Trump has threatened to overhaul Obamacare, these services are at stake.
December 9, 2016
December 10 is Human Rights Day . And right before the Human Rights Day this year, I received an e-mail from a mother, upset that her employer doesn’t support breastfeeding and that her supervisor told her “Not only breastfeeding moms are good moms, formula is as good.” I was saddened. I am sad because I feel her. When I asked for breastfeeding accommodation from my previous employer , someone from the company told me, “You can just use formula. It’s as good. My son was formula-fed and he went to Harvard.” I am sad because my hands are tied. I’ve been blogging about breastfeeding rights for...
November 29, 2016
One bright afternoon of this August in our neighborhood playground, an older child—probably 5 or 6 years old— threatened my 3-year-old son, saying “Trump will kick you out of here when he becomes President.” That was the first time my son learned about the election. We didn't talk about it at home, considering he’s still young. I never thought he would learn about it this way in a playground. A shocking lesson for him. And a shocking lesson for me. When it comes to unfriendly comments about immigrants and minority groups, many Asian American people, including me, often have an illusion of “...
October 25, 2016
October is National Work and Family Month. Working Mother Magazine identified 100 businesses that take their obligations employees seriously , first and foremost with paid family leave. These businesses are dragging the country toward something approximating a civilized social safety net, which is awesome—unfortunately I don’t work for any of them. I’m one of the approximately 53 million freelancers and independent contractors in the U.S. Yes, I could theoretically stop working for a period of time to welcome my new child into the world. I have been saving for this very reason for quite some...
September 1, 2016
MomsRising turns 10 years old this month! That’s a decade of gains of women, mothers and families. This makes me so excited that I have to write something about it. I’ve been with MomsRising for three years. Three years ago this month, my son turned five month old and I’ve been back to work for two months after a three-month-long maternity leave. That two months were tough. I chose to breastfeed, which my company did not support. We didn’t have a nursing room, even though California law requires appropriate reasonable space for pumping. I had to pump in the restroom. When I tempted to wash my...
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