Traei Tsai: Using The Power of Storytelling to Empower Women
Traei Tsai is a Taiwanese born Canadian writer, gender equality and women empowerment activist, actress, fashion model, and painter based in Vancouver. She is currently working on a book-project, “Her Stories Untold“, capturing true stories of women around the globe. As featured in a recent interview on Global News on Mother’s Day, she talks about how women can support other women with her stories. In addition, she is also working on her other book on honest reflections about life. Traei was also nominated as the first Canadian Official Winner at MiraBan Art in London, UK for her painting, “The Koi Mantra” ( a painting showcasing the strength of life, women in their vulnerability, shyness, modesty, and allure through delicate objects of the antique ceramic from the Qing Dynasty period.)
She has acted in the recent Corona Movie, a dramatic thriller and the world’s first feature film about Coronavirus and Xenophobia. Traei is also the Vice-President of BC Minorities in Film & TV Society, a non-profit organization advocating for minorities and diversity inclusion in front and behind the camera.
In this conversation with Swagata Sen, Traei shares her passion in creating positive social impacts in supporting and empowering women through her diverse work.
Traei, Could you please share about your work related to empowering women and addressing gender-based violence through your recent book project?
This journey started last year, and originally it was supposed to be just based here in Vancouver BC, Canada. But with the changes and the global pandemic, I realized that things are changing rapidly and what women were previously experiencing has encountered significant changes due to the global pandemic. Therefore, there is a much urgent need to capture this. Statistics around the globe have been documenting this. For instance, the women or their partners leave home to go to work, but due to home isolation during the lockdown, many women are at home, in close proximity of their abusers, 24/7. As a result, domestic violence numbers are on the rise all over the world.
As the author of “Her Stories Untold” and an Asian woman (visible minority), I want to create positive changes in all the ways that I can. This book project is on about how diverse women coming into becoming who they are today and also on how they are coping with the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation (Women empowerment in their uplifting journey).
As you are already aware, lasting empowerment and inspirations begins by sharing their journey, capturing the beauty within their struggles and challenges blooming into whom they have become today and exploring how they are coping with the present Coronavirus/COVID19 situation specific to their location.
A woman in this globe is experiencing something right at this moment and may need one inspiration of a journey to take that next step, no matter how big or small.
Because of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, women around the globe are experiencing something they have never experienced before. The gendered experience of coronavirus is grounded in gender inequalities that impact all of us, every single day. Women supporting women is the best form of empowerment and inspiration for women around the globe
What motivated you to create ” Her Storied Untold” ?
There are many reasons as to why “Her Stories Untold” came about. As an visible minority, growing up in Canada, I am grateful that it has been a multi-culturally diverse experience to date. However, like many other women, I have also encountered racism, relationship abuse and injustice, and others. In combination, because of personal situations that have caused continuous emotional distress, it made me realize that every journey counts. Some of those sufferings may be emotion, for some it is physical and there are a multitude of experiences welcomed or not. Some of the wonderful women I met in my life so far have empowered and inspired me in different ways.
That is exactly what Her Stories Untold is about – everyday people, because that is what we all are, spotlight or not.
Recently, I saw Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez speech about gender inequality, she really hit home with what she said.
Her “speech was a recounting of thoughts that so many women and femme people have carried since the time we were children.“
What continues to inspire me is women like her. WE are absolutely someone’s daughter, sister, mother, grandmother.
There is no space for poor behavior from others, especially abuse from men. If women were able to share their journeys, this can help empower and inspire others to maybe even to move just one step forward.
My motivation continues everyday by all the women and events I see around me. It inspires and empowers me to continue my path of Her Stories Untold, because it has the potential of creating layers of positive impacts on a long term basis – just like your organization, Rights of Equality.
How do you think “Her Stories Untold” would help empower women?
Every woman is unique, not one is the same. But we may encounter similar experiences that we can draw insight from to help us to move forward, even if it is one step.
For example, a woman may go to a new city to follow her dreams, but only had $100 in her pocket. Today, she started her own company and her journey to get here, is a colorful one that can inspire others.
Or, a woman may be suffering emotional abuse by their partner but this is not openly expressed because of cultural norms. She hides this for years but finally comes out to talk and now she is empowering others because she has shared her stories untold and sees that she is not alone.
The key significance here is that, if one of the stories can create even a brief moment of, ‘I can do that, I can try that’ then this project is inspiring others. We all have that power with our voices.
Her Stories Untold may be a book project about stories of women, but we need to recognize that men are born from women. To become stronger, we also create strong men. And there are also many strong men out there that support this journey too, in other ways.
As a women’s rights advocate, what do you consider as your biggest achievement(s) so far?
I think life is a lifelong learning process. Every day is a learning opportunity. I am grateful and humble to the kind people that I have met and also the people that are in the relevant causes of helping others, creating positive impacts. For every project I do, every post I make, I always strive to add a form of positive messaging to others. That is my purpose, and I am grateful to have discovered this earlier on so I can continuously incorporate this into everything I do.
Her Stories Untold is an important project that aligns with many other women focused projects around the globe. It also aligns with all the women in us, because though we may be different in bodies and in life, you are the woman in me, and I am the woman in you as I am to her
What would you advise the younger generation for creating a more equal and sustainable world?
Take your time to review, learn, and analyze when you can. Life is happening, and I think it is important to reflect on how to be responsible citizens of the globe, not only in our local community. I think despite our focus here on women, it is important to note that by engaging and including men in understanding these issues and circumstances, together we can change and contribute to a more equal and sustainable world. Though the journey of Her Stories Untold remains unique to the woman individually, remember that the world does not function in insolation.
Nothing is perfect and everything in this universe depends on one another, we are interconnected.
Think, plants need earth to grow and require water to nurture the continuity of that growth. As responsible citizens of the globe, together, not alone, we will be able to cultivate and create the positive changes that are needed. Always take your time to reflect, assess, learn, and take action. Identify and learn what your core values are. Ask and know the why and the how because everything in this whole universe depends on one another.