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Press Releases


Professor Sheena Iyengar of Columbia Business School joins AUWSF Board of Directors

CAMBRIDGE, MA, United States, November 21st, 2014 – The Asian University for Women (AUW, is delighted to welcome the newest member of the Asian University for Women Support Foundation Board of Directors. Professor Sheena Iyengar was elected to the AUWSF Board of Directors in November. She is the S. T. Lee Professor of Business at Columbia Business School, the Faculty Director of the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center, and the Faculty Director of the Global Leadership Matrix (GLeaM) Program. We are honored to have her with us, and we look forward to a productive and enthusiastic collaboration.


Professor Sheena Iyengar spoke on the panel of the Asia Society discussion on women's education in September



Reflecting on this milestone, Professor Iyengar said, “I am so pleased to be joining the Board of the Asian University for Women Support Foundation. AUW’s intelligent, thoughtful and passionate alumnae have been a source of inspiration to me. It is my belief that AUW's work and educational mission not only better the lives of their students, but the cultures and societies in which these women live and lead. The graduates of AUW represent the best of the next wave of global leaders.”

Professor Iyengar shares AUW’s passion for women’s empowerment in South Asia, a sentiment largely rooted in her own multicultural upbringing and personal challenges. Born in Toronto to Indian immigrant parents, Professor Iyengar moved to the United States in her youth, where she grew up surrounded by the rich cultural traditions of her Sikh neighborhood and heritage. As a child of immigrants and a newcomer to the United States herself, Professor Iyengar grew up balancing between different worlds.

Renowned for her research on choice, Professor Iyengar faced two monumental personal ordeals in her childhood that highlighted the extent to which our lives are molded by unpredictable events. As a child, Professor Iyengar discovered she had a rare inherited disease that was corroding her eyesight, and by the time she entered high school, she was completely blind. When she was 13 years old, Professor Iyengar suddenly lost her father to a heart attack. In her writings on choice, Professor Iyengar has reflected on these two events and their relationship to her personal resilience.

Now a professor at Columbia Business School, Professor Iyengar’s teaching has earned her recognitions such as the Innovation in the Teaching Curriculum award from Columbia Business School and the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Core Teaching. Her accolades span beyond the classroom, as Professor Iyengar is also an accomplished writer. She has written her own book, The Art of Choosing, which was chosen as a finalist for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year 2010 award and being ranked #3 on the Best Books of 2010: Business & Investing Top 10. Professor Iyengar’s work has also been published in premiere academic journals across such disciplines as economics, psychology, management, and marketing, and it is regularly cited in the popular press, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Fortune and Time magazines, the BBC and National Public Radio, television programs such as the Today Show and the Daily Show, and in bestselling books such as Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. In 2002, she was the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Social Scientists.


AUW Partners with Konrad-Adenauer

Chittagong, Bangladesh, October 16th, 2014 - The Asian University for Women (AUW) is delighted to announce a new partnership with the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), through which KAS will provide scholarships for 3 young women from Afghanistan to complete their Access Academy year at the University in the 2014-2015 academic year. Shakeba Ahmadi, Najia Ibrahimi, and Shakila Reyazi arrived at AUW in August to begin their higher education, and are already adjusting to life among students from 15 different countries.

The Access Academy is AUW’s one-year flagship program that prepares students for rigorous undergraduate studies. Focusing on English language, mathematics, and computer skills, the Access Academy provides AUW students with a common foundation of skills for a liberal arts education. Students take classes in small groups, allowing for individualized attention from the Access Academy instructors to each new student. This year of academic exploration complements students’ introduction to AUW’s multicultural environment as students are assigned roommates who come from different countries, highlight AUW’s value for diversity and cross-cultural learning. Access Academy students also take karate classes and choose a community service project for their first year at AUW, embodying the AUW ideal of a liberal arts education.

The Asian University for Women (AUW) is an international university with an Asia focus located in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Now in its seventh year of operations, AUW boasts a student body from 15 different countries across Asia and the Middle East, and has graduated more than 260 alumnae so far. AUW offers a high-caliber liberal arts education for young women interested in topics ranging from public health to politics to computer science. AUW graduates have gone on to work in business, international development agencies, government institutions, and research facilities, always proving their commitment to using their passion and leadership to tackle challenges facing their home countries and women around the world. As a rising network of women leaders, AUW alumnae are growing into the Asian region’s next generation of change-markers. For more information, please visit the AUW website at

The Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) is a German political foundation. With more than 200 projects in over 120 countries, KAS aims to promote freedom, liberty, peace and justice through civic education programs. They focus on strengthening democracy, uniting Europe, supporting transatlantic relations, and development cooperation. KAS is named for the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, carrying on his name and his principles. KAS provides research on fundamental concepts and current analyses to inform political action, in addition to hosting conferences, events, and exhibitions. Every year KAS awards the Literary Prize and promotes excellence in journalism as a key component of thriving democratic societies. For more information, please visit the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung website at

Media Contacts:

Asian University for Women
Katsuki Sakai
+1 (617) 914-0500

Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung
Marc Frings
+49 (0)30 26996 3598

Hitachi and AUW Announce Partnership

Pledge US$ 180,000 covering 3 students’ school and living expense for 4 years

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, October 8, 2014 – The Asian University for Women (“AUW”) and Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE:6501, “Hitachi”) announced today that Hitachi will sponsor scholarships for three students attending AUW for four years. Hitachi will provide scholarships to these young women for the course of their undergraduate education at AUW—a four-year program in the liberal arts and sciences. Hitachi has pledged to cover tuition, room and board, health insurance, textbooks and supplies, etc. for three students. Selected for their academic excellence and leadership potential, these students come from India (2 students) and Myanmar (1 student).

AUW is a pre-eminent liberal arts university for women in South Asia. They provide higher education to those who do not have the means to afford higher education on their own, but are willing and able to become change-makers in their lives and communities after university.

Through this scholarship program, Hitachi supports these eager and highly motivated young Asian women, and aims to contribute to solving social issues such as poverty, education and gender inequality in South Asia.

Hitachi is pursuing this goal not only through its social innovation business but also by engaging with and contributing to local communities as a member of the community. Specifically, Hitachi considers education as one of the focus areas of its social contribution activities.

In addition to the Hitachi Scholarship Program for AUW, Hitachi has been promoting several educational initiatives for the young generation around the world, one of which is the Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative (HYLI) since 1996. HYLI brings together the outstanding 28 university students for a week from seven participating countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan, who have shown potential to become future leaders. HYLI provides these students with a platform to exchange ideas on pressing issues in Asia.

Yukiko Araki, CSR and Environmental Strategy Division, Hitachi says, "Hitachi holds its Group Vision that states Hitachi delivers innovations that answer society’s challenges. We are very pleased to sponsor three young women who have a big dream to contribute to solving their countries’ issues including poverty and education. Through high-level education and working hard together with peers at the Asian University for Women, we expect them to acquire a wide range of knowledge in order to realize each of their dreams, and to become prominent leaders to contribute to further prosperity of their countries in the future. Communication with them will help us identify social issues in India and Myanmar, and we would like to connect it to our better business activities. We, Hitachi, will continue to tackle social issues while nurturing Asia’s future leaders.”

Kamal Ahmad, Founder, Asian University for Women says, "Hitachi’s commitment to sponsoring three students at the Asian University for Women demonstrates their understanding of how business and social development intersect. By investing in women who live in the regions where they have operations, Hitachi is cultivating a roster of educated, cross-culturally competent women who can contribute to business endeavors and lead the way for new initiatives that promote growth for both their countries and the companies that work in them. I am delighted to have Hitachi’s support as they further prove their dedication to promoting youth education, and I hope other corporations will follow their example.”

About The Asian University for Women

AUW is an independent, international university for women located in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The University focuses on providing a high-quality liberal arts and sciences education to future women leaders, regardless of their background. AUW offers a one-year, pre-collegiate bridge program called the Access Academy, as well as a four-year undergraduate program. AUW provides need-based full scholarships to many of its students. AUW has support groups in the United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Japan. Mrs. Akie Abe, First Lady of Japan, serves as a Patron of the University. For more about AUW, please visit

About Hitachi, Ltd.

Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, delivers innovations that answer society's challenges with our talented team and proven experience in global markets. The company's consolidated revenues for fiscal 2013 (ended March 31, 2014) totaled 9,616 billion yen ($93.4 billion). Hitachi is focusing more than ever on the Social Innovation Business, which includes infrastructure systems, information & telecommunication systems, power systems, construction machinery, high functional materials & components, automotive systems, health care and others. For more information on Hitachi, please visit the company's website at


"The combination of energy and urgency in the room was palpable."

CAMBRIDGE, United States, October 3, 2014 - We are delighted to be hearing so many positive reactions to the event that the Asia Society hosted last week, “Teaching Half the Sky: from Policies to Practice in Girls’ Education,” and we are writing to pass on some of the feedback that our speakers and attendees have shared with us. Reflecting on the event, Tom Nagorski, Executive Vice President of the Asia Society, said that “Sheena Iyengar and Mursal Hamraz are living testimony to how a girl and a young woman can rise up in a world where the challenges are huge and opportunities limited.” If you would like to watch a video of the event, please visit

“Teaching Half the Sky: from Policies to Practice in Girls’ education” featured a roundtable discussion on the current situation of girls’ education and the imperative of investing resources, not just awareness, into this global issue. Our panelists included First Lady of Japan Akie Abe, who is a Patron of the Asian University for Women; Terri McCullough, formerly Chief of Staff to U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and now Director of No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project of the Clinton Foundation; Sheena Iyengar, professor at the Columbia Business School and head of the Global Leadership Matrix Institute; and Mursal Hamraz, an Asian University for Women 2014 graduate from Afghanistan who is currently working with the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics in Kabul. The event was moderated by Josette Sheeran, President of the Asia Society, and Young Joon Kim, Chairman of the Asian University for Women Support Foundation.

Mursal Hamraz and Katherine Pickus, Vice President of Global Citizenship and Policy at Abbott Laboratories, visit the Chicago Council on Global Affairs

A Special Thank You

Our AUW supporters know that none of our endeavors are possible without the generosity of our network of individuals, government offices, corporations, and foundations who share our mission of expanding educational access for talented young women in Asia and the Middle East. One of our most dedicated, long-time supporters is Abbott Laboratories. This fall, Abbott showed its generosity once more by sponsoring AUW’s event at the Asia Society, including transportation for Mursal, our AUW alumna who spoke about her experiences working at the Government of Afghanistan.

Abbott’s support reaches far back before our panel discussion on Friday. As a global health technology and research firm, Abbott has played a leading role in strengthening AUW’s science curriculum. One of our most unsparing supporters in this regard has been Katherine Pickus, Vice President of Global Citizenship and Policy at Abbott, to whom we owe special gratitude. Abbott funded the construction of science laboratories on the AUW campus, and also arranges for weekly instructional sessions via video with between Abbott researchers and AUW students. This semester, the Abbott Lecture series focuses on medicine and public health, such as the drug development process. Abbott is also currently sponsoring the complete tuition for 10 AUW students, making the pursuit of science and higher education a possibility for some of our brightest minds. We are enormously grateful for Abbott’s generosity over the years, and would like to take this event as a time to express special thanks. If you would like to learn more about Abbott’s involvement with AUW, please see

What People Are Saying

Our guests at the Asia Society discussion included students, government officials, policy-makers, nonprofit leaders, and representatives from international NGOs. We would like to share some of the comments we have heard from our guests since the successful event on Friday:

“I was deeply moved by the personal stories shared by Mursal Hamraz and Sheena Iyengar about how role models, resources and the right intervention allowed them to achieve education which allowed them to pursue their dreams. Those gathered shared the goal to help women and girls achieve their full potential day by day through education. I am hopeful we will continue the conversation to work collectively toward that goal.” – Terri McCullough, Director of No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project at The Clinton Foundation

Young Joon Kim, Kamal Ahmad, Kathleen Pike, Mursal Hamraz, and Saima Hossain

“As the number of girls attending primary and secondary schools increases in Asia, it is imperative that we begin to pay greater attention to making college level education more accessible to young and talented girls. This will not only enable girls to fulfill their socio-cultural roles, but also give talented and ambitious girls the opportunity to succeed in a fast paced global community.” – Saima Wazed Hossain, Chairperson of the Bangladesh National Advisory Committee on Autism and Neuro-developmental Disorders, and Global Autism Public Health Initiative – Bangladesh

 “I felt inspired and hopeful observing men and women discuss together about girls' and women's education and how this goal can be reached through changes in the policies and a focus on practices to overcome the gender inequality and bring positive change in the societies.” – Mursal Hamraz, AUW Alumnae and panelist

Emily Rafferty comments during the discussion

“The roundtable and its topical discussion of women’s education and literacy was immensely enlightening and articulate. I was deeply impressed by the breadth of knowledge and experiences shared by so many people in the room, united in their commitment and cumulative thinking on advancing the issue. It is extremely important that we move these initiatives forward and continue engaging one another on this topic in meaningful, proactive, result-oriented dialogues.” – Emily Rafferty, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

“The nature of the discussion at this event was unmatched. The stories of both the panelists and other attendees encouraged further discussion and were, in themselves, catalysts for change. While each of the panelists had something different to contribute, I found it most valuable that each person in attendance was actively working toward the communal goal of increased access to women's education in their own way. At few other events is each person able to learn something new from every other person there. The discussion itself was valuable, but the friendships forged and connections made after the talk will surely have the greatest impact as we move forward toward our goal.” – Sarah Fields, Student at Tufts University

Mursal Hamraz, Kamal Ahmad, and First Lady of Japan Akie Abe

“At the Asia Society we always endeavor to bring people together from diverse backgrounds in terms of geography and experience. We absolutely had a huge success in terms of the caliber and variety of speakers at this event – it isn’t often that you have in one room the First Lady of Japan, who is very engaged and involved with the issue of education in her country; two speakers recounting stories from their own impressive lives, Sheena Iyengar and Mursal Hamraz; and two really accomplished women who have worked hard in this space, our President Josette Sheeran and Terri McCullouogh from the Clinton Foundation.

We’ve done a lot of work at the Asia Society on the issue of girls’ education, women’s education, and the transition to active and productive professional lives in their communities. It was unmistakably clear to me that the roundtable discussion in collaboration with the Asian University for Women was a great success, largely thanks to the participation of so many interesting people who could have been on the panel themselves, and of course, a fantastic set of speakers sharing their professional perspectives as well as highly personal, inspirational stories.” – Tom Nagorski, Executive Vice President of the Asia Society.

“The combination of energy and urgency in the room was palpable. It is always refreshing to bring together such impressive stakeholders towards a common goal. The icing on the cake was getting a glimpse of the polished, passionate, and determined alumnae of the University. It is a reminder that educating women releases tremendous potential into our world.” – Sheena Iyengar, S. T. Lee Professor of Business, Columbia Business School; Director of Global Leadership Matrix Initiative.

EU Commissioner for Development Meets with AUW Delegation

BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 21, 2014 – A delegation from the Asian University for Women led by the University's Chancellor Cherie Blair met with European Union Commissioner for Development Mr.  Andris Piebalgs on May 21, 2014 at the European Commission Secretariat in Brussels. The hour-long meeting focused on the urgency of girl's and women's education in engendering development.  AUW Chancellor Cherie Blair recalled how the Asian University for Women establishment agreement was signed in the European Parliament.  She noted that the emphasis on regional identity and collaboration at the Asian University for Women mirrored the EU integration concept.  Commissioner Piebalgs highly appreciated the work of AUW and indicated a number of ways through which collaboration between EU and the University could ensue.

Prior to the EU meetings, Chancellor Cherie Blair and Mowmita Basak Mow, a 2013 graduate of the Asian University for Women, also spoke at a gathering organized by the British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels. 

Japanese First Lady, Mrs. Akie Abe, Lauds AUW at Tokyo Event

TOKYO, Japan, April 22, 2014 – The Asian University for Women’s Japan Support Committee hosted its 5th annual film screening and fundraising event for the University on April 22, 2014 at the Sogetsu Kaikan in Tokyo.  Over 200 guests attended and watched the documentary “Girl Rising” from Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins. The film journeys around the globe to witness the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world, following the lives of nine remarkable girls living in the developing world who overcome nearly impossible odds to pursue their dreams.

Prior to the screening, Mrs. Akie Abe, the First Lady of Japan and an AUW Patron, discussed her visit to Bangladesh in 2011 and recapped her strong belief in AUW’s mission, emphasizing that female global leaders are critical for Asia’s growth, sustainability, and prosperity as a region. She concluded by urging guests to support AUW.

Organized by the AUW Japan Support Committee, the event also included speeches by two alumnae from AUW’s pioneer graduate Class of 2013, Kamala KC from Nepal and Duth Kimsru from Cambodia, who spoke about their life stories. In their remarks, both women highlighted the challenging journeys they took to get to AUW and spoke passionately about the opportunities that an AUW education has provided them. Kimsru spoke about her mother who moved her family to Phnom Penh and took in extra work so Kimsru and her siblings could receive a better education. Kimsru now works at a nonprofit connecting young Cambodians to better educational opportunities. For Kamala, she described her 90 minute walk to school every day and her part-time work as a teacher to finance her own studies. She is now pursuing her graduate degree in Sociology in South Korea and plans to work with Nepalese migrant laborers in future.

Among the event attendees were His Excellency Mr. Masud Bin Momen, Bangladesh Ambassador to Japan and his wife Shoma,  His Excellency Mr. Farukh Amil, Ambassador of Pakistan to Japan, and Reiko Rzerdahelyi, wife of the Hungarian Ambassador to Japan. Other distinguished guests included members from JKSK, a non-profit that supports AUW through various activities, including a one-coin grassroots fundraising campaign. AUW is thankful for their efforts in raising 5 partial scholarships every year for the last 4 years. JKSK has also just renewed its agreement with AUW to support an additional 5 partial scholarships for incoming Access Academy students. Ms. Tiziana Alamprese, Marketing Director of Fiat-Chrysler Japan, was also in attendance and urged others to join in supporting AUW.

In addition to the fund raising event, the AUW alumnae attended a series of meetings in Tokyo this week, all of which were organized by the Japan Support Committee and the AUW Support Foundation. The trip served as a fundraising opportunity for AUW and enabled its growing network of supporters to connect directly with the University’s students and alumnae. Along with AUW Support Foundation Board Members Kathy Matsui, Catherine Watters Sasanuma, and Miwa Seki, the two students visited a number of Japanese corporations and called for their support of AUW. The visits were a success, generating meaningful discussion of AUW’s work, and one corporation has already pledged support of 3 AUW student scholarships over 4 years.

AUW is grateful for the Japan Support Committee’s long-term support. As one of AUW’s most active support groups, it has worked tirelessly to advance awareness and sponsorship of the University, and such moving and inspiring events as this are a crucial step in allowing AUW to continue its important work. In addition to Japan, AUW has active support foundations and groups in Hong Kong, the UK, Kuwait and Italy.

IKEA Foundation Announces New Grant of USD $6 million to AUW; bringing IKEA Foundation commitments to AUW USD $11 million

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, October 30, 2013 – The Asian University for Women (AUW) and the IKEA Foundation announced today that they will be expanding their partnership to provide scholarships to another class of 100 students at AUW. Since 2012, the IKEA Foundation has committed to provide scholarships covering tuition, room and board, and other costs associated with attending AUW, to 100 students for all five years of their education. With 200 AUW students now holding IKEA Foundation Scholarships, this new commitment has doubled the Foundation’s impact on the University. IKEA Foundation’s commitments to AUW now total $11 million.

The IKEA Foundation scholarship programme at AUW aims to graduate skilled and capable women who will return to their communities and provide leadership to help break the barriers that restrict opportunities for generations of women and their families.

In May, 31 IKEA Foundation Scholars graduated from AUW as part of the University’s first graduating class of 132 young women. Nilukshi Cooray, one of those alumnae sponsored by the IKEA Foundation, is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Regional Development and Planning at Colombo University in her native Sri Lanka. Her ultimate goal is to become a professor. Another alumna sponsored by the IKEA Foundation is Zishrat Hasan, who is now working at Chevron Bangladesh as a Health and Safety Specialist. Fahria Kabir, from Bangladesh, is an Organizer with the “Break the Chain” project, which seeks to harness the power of social media to raise awareness about violence against women.

This year’s IKEA Foundation Scholars come from 13 of AUW’s 15 countries: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Palestine, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Kamal Ahmad, the founder of AUW, has said: “The IKEA Foundation’s support enables the Asian University for Women to serve extraordinary women, regardless of their economic circumstances, so we can focus on women who have few opportunities to pursue higher education.”

Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation, has said of the program: “Women’s education is no doubt a powerful tool for improving the lives of children in developing countries. Having personally met some of the students, faculty and staff, I am excited and optimistic that this partnership will be of enduring value.”

About the IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in the world’s poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and sustainable family income. Currently-funded programmes benefit an estimated 100 million children by 2015. Learn more at

A Partnership in Support of Women’s Higher Education –L’Oréal and Asian University for Women sign MOU

Clichy, 28 June 2013 – L’Oréal and the Asian University for Women (AUW) have today announced an agreement through which the two organizations share their commitment to promoting talented young women. Jérôme Tixier, L’Oréal’s Executive Vice-President of Human Resources and Kamal Ahmad, AUW Founder and President & CEO, Asian University for Women Support Foundation, signed a 4-year memorandum of understanding in the presence of Cherie Blair, Chancellor, Asian University for Women, Irina Bokova, General-Director, UNESCO and Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman & CEO, L’Oréal Group.

L’Oréal committed to support the AUW and its students in areas such as:

Jérôme Tixier, Executive Vice-President Human Resources, L’Oréal Group said, "The mission of the Asian University for Women, empowering women to become leaders of tomorrow, is an important one that resonates with L’Oréal’s core values – to ensure a diversity of talent by promoting women at the highest level of the organization. We look forward to contributing to supporting AUW’s programme and it’s community as it forges ahead in Bangladesh.”

“The mission of the AUW is to offer women access to world-class education in a region where they are often denied opportunities. This would not be possible without the support and collaboration of multinationals such as L’Oréal. Being the world’s leading cosmetics company and one that focuses on women, I am confident that our students will greatly benefit from this rewarding partnership with L’Oréal,” said Kamal Ahmad, AUW Founder and President & CEO, Asian University for Women Support Foundation.

About L’Oréal

L’Oréal, the world’s leading beauty company, has catered to all forms of beauty in the world for over 100 years and has built an unrivalled portfolio of 27 international, diverse and complementary brands. With sales amounting to 22.5 billion euros in 2012, L’Oréal employs 72,600 people worldwide. In 2013, the Ethisphere Institute, a leading international think-tank for business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability, recognized L’Oréal as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. This is the fourth time that L’Oréal has received this distinction.

AUW Announces the Toshiba Scholars Program

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, June 25, 2013 – The Asian University for Women (AUW) announced today that the Toshiba Corporation will sponsor scholarships for three students attending AUW from Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar.  The Japanese company will provide scholarships to these young women for the course of their undergraduate education at AUW—a four-year program in the liberal arts and sciences.  These full scholarships will include tuition, room and board, health insurance, textbooks and supplies, and international travel.  Toshiba has previously been involved with AUW through the University’s internship program, hosting student interns at its Japan offices.

The Toshiba Scholars are: Afsana Kabir, from Bangladesh; Nivedita Negi, from India; and Chit Su Win, from Myanmar. They will complete AUW’s Access Academy curriculum in July and begin their studies in the undergraduate program this autumn.

Toshiba has strong commitment to corporate social responsibility efforts in education and environment, while keeping long involvement in technical education while keeping its long history of innovation and ongoing leadership in the technology field. Cherishing diversity is one of the fields that Toshiba also emphasizes, while supporting growth of growing economies is the key field that the company focuses currently. Under that philosophy, Toshiba’s scholarship programs include schools such as Vietnam National University and Hanoi University of Science and Technology. This activity for supporting AUW will add another solution for the companies’ commitment to future generations. For more about Toshiba’s Corporate Social Responsibility programs, please visit

About Toshiba

Toshiba is a world-leading diversified manufacturer, solutions provider and marketer of advanced electronic and electrical products and systems. Toshiba Group brings innovation and imagination to a wide range of businesses: digital products, including LCD TVs, notebook PCs, retail solutions and MFPs; electronic devices, including semiconductors, storage products and materials; industrial and social infrastructure systems, including power generation systems, smart community solutions, medical systems and escalators & elevators; and home appliances. Toshiba was founded in 1875, and today operates a global network of more than 590 consolidated companies, with 206,000 employee worldwide and annual sales surpassing 5.8 trillion yen (US$62 billion). Visit Toshiba's web site at

Fast Retailing Announces Scholarship Program with AUW

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, June 18, 2013 - We are delighted to share with you an announcement from Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. (parent company of UNIQLO and other international retail outlets) about the company’s new initiatives in Bangladesh, including a partnership with the Asian University for Women. As detailed in the company’s press release, Fast Retailing will support student scholarships at AUW with a generous gift of USD $1 million over a five-year period. Fast Retailing has also announced an initiative to partner with the NGO Plan Japan to support girls’ soccer programs in Bangladesh.

With these philanthropic programs, Fast Retailing “aims to empower the next generation of Bangladeshi women, to help them to fully realize their talents and play an active role in society.” AUW is thrilled to be partnering with Fast Retailing and is most grateful for the company’s support. To read the full press release, click here:

AUW's First Commencement Ceremony

Chittagong, Bangladesh, May 18, 2013 –The Asian University for Women (AUW) will host its first Commencement on May 18, 2013. The Graduation Ceremony will take place at the Chittagong Boat Club, Chittagong from 10:00 am - 12:30 pm. The Vice Chancellor of the University Dr. Fahima Aziz, Chancellor Cherie Blair, the Board of Trustees and the Faculty of the Asian University for Women will confer the Bachelor’s Degree upon 134 students. Vice Chancellor Aziz will present a diploma to each of the graduating students and deliver her commencement speech.  Ms. Marina Mahathir of Malaysia, a writer and women’s rights activist will deliver the keynote address at the ceremony.

The Asian University for Women opened in 2008 with this class that is graduating. There are currently twelve countries represented by AUW students: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.  The University seeks to graduate women who will be skilled and innovative professionals, service-oriented leaders in the businesses and communities in which they will work and live, and promoters of intercultural understanding and sustainable human and economic development in Asia and throughout the world.

AUW's First IKEA Foundation Scholars to Graduate in May

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, May 15, 2013 – On May 18, 2013, the Asian University for Women will graduate its first class of 134 students, including 31 “IKEA Foundation Scholars.”  The scholars attend AUW on full scholarships funded by the IKEA Foundation.  The IKEA Foundation provides scholarships of $12,000 per year, covering tuition, room and board, and other costs associated with attending AUW.

The IKEA scholarship programme at AUW aims to graduate skilled and capable women who will return to their communities and provide leadership to help break the barriers that restrict opportunities for generations of women and their families.

The graduating IKEA Foundation Scholars come from across Asia and have spent the past four years not only studying hard for a degree but also learning leadership skills that will empower them to help break the cycle of poverty in their home countries.  After graduation, they plan to attend graduate school in fields as diverse as business, computer science, development studies, environmental science, and urban planning.  Some plan to start their own enterprises or non-governmental organizations, or obtain their first jobs.  One thing that the IKEA Foundation Scholars have in common, though, is their dedication to serving their communities.  Nithaya PC, a graduating IKEA Foundation Scholar from India, said: “[AUW has] helped me to become an educated, socially responsible person—[before I was] someone who used to think that the goal of education is to get a job and thereby lead a happy life.”  Now, Nithaya says, she wants to use her education to work on national security issues.

Pradmisha Mainali, a graduating senior from Nepal, cites the day she was awarded the IKEA Scholarship as one of her proudest at AUW.  The Foundation’s support has enabled her to attend an international liberal arts university with peers from throughout the region, which has helped her “learn to be more independent” and “grow as an individual” well beyond the valuable skills that she has learned in the classroom.  An Environmental Science major at AUW, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Environmental Management and Sustainable Engineering after she graduates.

Soumya Samuel, originally from Kerala, India, will graduate with a degree in Computer Science.  She applied to AUW with the hope of becoming “[a] pioneering citizen that has a global community with mutual understanding and respect.”  Living with peers from throughout the region and studying under professors from across the world, Soumya says that she “learned how to be a global citizen by respecting each and every culture, [and] country and their activities.”  Her accomplishments at AUW included an internship with Hindustan Computer Limited, one of the leading IT companies in India.  She plans to go on to graduate school in Computer Science and eventually work in that field.

Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation, says of the scholarship program: “The IKEA Foundation is providing these scholarships because we believe that empowering women is one of the best ways to create better opportunities for them and their families…Having met many of the students, faculty and staff at AUW, I am excited and optimistic that this partnership will be of enduring value.” 

Kamal Ahmad, the founder of AUW, has said: “The IKEA Foundation’s support enables the Asian University for Women to serve extraordinary women, regardless of their economic circumstances, so we can focus on women who have few opportunities to pursue higher education.”

AUW’s first graduation ceremony in May is a major milestone for the University.  The Class of 2013 will be the first in a network of leaders committed to the betterment of their societies through effective leadership by talented, visionary women.  Support from the IKEA Foundation enables AUW to provide a high-quality education that will serve not only those women who pass through the halls of the University, but the people and communities that they will undoubtedly impact in their endeavors beyond graduation.  For more information about all 31 graduating IKEA Foundation Scholars, visit

About the IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in developing countries by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and sustainable family income. Currently funded programmes benefit an estimated 100 million children. Learn more at

Akie Abe, Japan's First Lady, Joins AUW as Patron

Chittagong, Bangladesh, February 19, 2013 – Akie Abe, whose husband, Shinzo Abe, has been re-elected as the Japanese Prime Minister, has joined the Asian University for Women (AUW) as a Patron.

The Asian University for Women, based in Chittagong, Bangladesh, is an international university exclusively dedicated to the education and leadership development of women from across Asia and the Middle East. The University offers a one-year preparatory program in English language, mathematics, computers and critical learning skills, as well as a four-year undergraduate program in the liberal arts and sciences.  Taught by an international faculty, AUW students currently come from 12 countries.

Mrs. Abe spoke at a conference sponsored by AUW on "Imagining Another Future for Asia" in January 2011 and became an avid supporter of the University’s initiative.  At the conference, Mrs. Abe decried the necessity of further progress on women’s issues in many areas in Japan, noting that as of 2008 only 49% of Japanese women were a part of the formal workforce.  She noted: "Empowered women help to improve the prospects of the next generations.  And once women have received the education, especially higher education that shapes leaders, then they will be well placed to assume equal roles with men.  The active involvement of women across all areas -- from economics to society to politics to academia -- is crucial to achieving our shared goals of peace and prosperity."

Akie Abe is a highly unusual figure in the tradition of Japanese First Ladies.  She owns a small organic rice farm in attestation to her devotion to promoting healthier foods and lifestyles.  She is a marathon runner.  For years she has been involved in raising funds to build schools in Myanmar.  She has made 9 visits to Myanmar and focused on that country in writing her master’s thesis.

AUW’s Council of Patrons is chaired by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.  In addition to Mrs. Akie Abe, the Council of Patrons includes Lone Dybkjaer (Former Minister of Environment in Denmark), Irina Bokova (Director-General of UNESCO), Emma Bonino (Vice President of Italian Senate), Anson Chan (Former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong), and Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor (First Lady of Malaysia).

AUW’s Global Support Network Expands to South Korea

Seoul, South Korea, February 4, 2013 - The Asian University for Women’s global support network has extended into Korea with a dinner honoring the University’s Chancellor, Mrs. Cherie Blair. The event, held at the Millennium Hilton Hotel in Seoul, was supported by the Harvard Club of Korea.  More than 130 guests were in attendance, including: Madame Kum Sil Kang, a founding member of AUW’s International Support Commitee and Korea’s first female Minister of Justice; Ms. Mee Kim, philanthropist and the publisher of the Women’s News; and Mr. Peter Beck, President of the Asia Foundation’s Korea Chapter.

This occasion marked AUW’s first fundraising event in Korea, and the start of what the University hopes will be a fruitful relationship with institutions and individuals in that country.  The dinner on January 31 included a presentation by AUW’s Vice Chancellor, Dr. Fahima Aziz, remarks from the Chairman of AUW’s Support Foundation, Mr. Young Joon Kim, and a speech and question-and-answer session with Mrs. Blair in her capacity as AUW’s Chancellor.  Mr. Jin Park, the President of the Harvard Club of Korea, also addressed the guests.  Earlier that day, Mrs. Blair was interviewed by several media outlets, the Chosun Daily, the Korea Times, the Maeil Business News, the Women’s News and Joongang Daily.  The Joongang Daily’s piece on Mrs. Blair can be found here:

While in Korea, the delegation from AUW also formalized agreements with Ewha Womans University and the Export-Import Bank of Korea.  AUW will enter into a student and faculty exchange program with Ewha, which is located in Seoul and is the world’s largest female educational institution.  The exchange program will allow AUW students to experience life in a different country within the region and gain a broader perspective, and the visiting students from Ewha will likewise contribute to the diversity of AUW’s campus community.  Selected AUW graduates will also be considered for post-graduate study and scholarships at Ewha through the Ewha Global Partnership Program.  Many students at AUW plan to pursue post-graduate degrees, and this partnership will provide exciting opportunities for them.

AUW will also partner with the Export-Import Bank of Korea (also known as Korea EximBank) for an internship program.  Korea EximBank will host AUW students as summer interns and will generously provide stipends to cover the costs associated with internships, such as travel and housing.  Ms. Kyung Ja Kim, the Director General of Korea EximBank’s Global Relations Department, helped to facilitate this partnership and also attended the AUW dinner in Seoul as a guest along with Mr. Ik Hwan Jang, the bank’s Director of Corporate & Social Responsibility, who will help to implement the student internship program.

These initial events and partnerships with major Korean institutions mark an important step for AUW in the process of making the University a self-sustaining entity supported by the people of Asia.

AUW's Grassroots Women' Political Leadership Forum Concludes

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, September 19, 2012 - The ten-day Grassroots Women’s Political Leadership Forum, organized by the Asian University for Women in collaboration with the U.S. State Department, came to a close today.  The Forum opened at AUW on September 10, with the State Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Affairs Ms. Melanne Verveer as the chief guests.

The closing ceremony brought together the Forum’s 57 grassroots participants to recognize their accomplishments.  Participants came to the Forum from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. 

Denmark’s Ambassador to Bangladesh, Mr. Svend Olling, was a special guest at the Forum’s closing ceremony.  Mr. Olling spoke briefly to the assembled group and presented each participant with a certificate recognizing their completion of the Forum’s training program.  In his remarks, the Danish Ambassador stressed how important well-organized grassroots movements and their leadership are in the functioning of democratic societies.  The Forum concluded with a call for greater attention to the continuing education of women leaders at the grassroots level.

AUW Hosts the Grassrots Women's Political Leadership Forum

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, September 3, 2012 - The Asian University for Women will host the first Grassroots Women's Political Leadership Forum during September 9-19 at its campus in Chittagong. The Forum will be jointly sponsored by AUW and the U.S. Department of State.  It will bring together over 100 participants, trainers and speakers from most of the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).  State Minister for Women's Affairs Dr. Shirin Sharmin Choudhry will speak at the opening session, along with Indian Minister of State for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath, and the Department of State’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Affairs Ms. Melanne Verveer.  Ambassador Verveer has said of the program: “The Grassroots Leadership [Forum] at the Asian University for Women is providing women in local government with a unique opportunity to focus on policies and issues that affect their communities, to learn best practices in addressing challenges, as well as to hone skills required to be effective leaders. We are pleased to work with the Asian University for Women which is doing so much to advance women’s progress through education and its leadership programs.”

The Forum at AUW is intended to provide wide-ranging leadership training to elected grassroots women leaders from throughout the region.  Announcing the program in Chennai, India last year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, "I…know there are several panchayat members here, and I thank you for working so hard to promote government and democracy at the local level.  So I am pleased to announce that the Government of the United States and the Government of India will establish a regional training program at the Asia[n] University of Women to spotlight the success of the panchayat program, and train more women to be local leaders like you.”

More than 60 grassroots participants will be in attendance from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.  The participants are women who are new to politics, serving on their local or village councils, or ran for local office.  The Forum is intended to serve women who are newcomers to politics or recent entrants into grassroots political service and are determined to make a difference in their communities through leadership development and training.

A total of 16 sessions will be offered on topics ranging from effective public speaking and communication skills to economic empowerment.  There will also be two special sessions: one on the Media and Grassroots Women’s Leadership, led by Mr. Mahfuz Anam, Editor of Bangladesh newspaper The Daily Star; and one on Political Challenges in Meeting Health Care Needs for Women, led by Dr. Ratna Jain, Mayor of Kotna, India.  Conducting the Forum’s other trainings will be eminent public servants, leaders of non-profit organizations, and academics who are committed to women’s empowerment and grassroots action.  Among them is Fouzia Saeed, a social activist, gender expert, and author of books such as Taboo! The Hidden Culture of a Red Light Area and Working with Sharks: Countering Sexual Harassment in our Lives.  Ms. Saeed is a founding member of the Alliance Against Sexual Harassment in Pakistan, and a founding member and Executive Director of Bedari, a community-based organization focused on women’s empowerment.  Our other esteemed trainers include: Parveen Mahmud, the first woman President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh; Pam Rajput, Head of the Political Science department at Panjab University in India and organizer of the Women’s Parliament; Stephenie Foster of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan and many more.

The Grassroots Women's Political Leadership Forum is being held at AUW as part of activities envisaged under the Women’s Empowerment Dialogue within the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. It is expected that the representatives of each participating country will prepare a plan of action to implement as a result of deliberations at the Forum.  AUW Vice Chancellor Dr. Fahima Aziz commented "It is a real privilege for AUW to host the Grassroots Women's Political Leadership Forum.  The trainers and the participants will inform the AUW community of the practical issues that inhibit the possibilities of change at the grassroots and also demonstrate how they may be overcome. We look forward to having every participant of the Forum as a partner in problem solving". AUW’s Founder Kamal Ahmad said of the Forum, “AUW is firmly committed to acting as a bridge between the corridors of knowledge and the needs of people—to acknowledging that the life of a university must be charged with serving the wider community and that education must be a dialogue, and not merely the imparting of knowledge from teacher to student.  To that end, we look to the women assembled here as teachers, from whom our faculty, trainers, and other students can and should learn.  We at AUW stand ready to support any meaningful initiatives that may emerge to tackle these challenges.  By bringing grassroots women political leaders from across Asia to our campus for this forum, we hope to reaffirm this commitment.”

The Forum will conclude on September 19 with a certificate awarding ceremony.  Mr. Svend Olling, Ambassador of Denmark to Bangladesh, will formally present certificates to the successful participants to acknowledge their achievements.

Please click here to view the full program of the Grassroots Women’s Political Leadership Forum.

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AUW Partners with Universities Abroad

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, August 21, 2012: The Asian University for Women has established partnerships with two major European educational institutions—a student exchange program with the Paris Institute of Political Studies (known as Sciences Po) in France, and a visiting faculty program with the University of Trento in Italy.  Through these partnerships, AUW is expanding its capacity to provide a truly global educational experience, solidifying its place as a Center of Excellence not only in the region, but worldwide.  Most importantly, AUW’s students benefit tremendously from the diversity of ideas and cultures that these programs bring to the University.

Sciences Po is one of the world’s most reputable and prestigious social science education institutions, with fields of study including political science, economics, history, law, and social and urban policy.  The institute has an international focus, with 42% of its student body coming from outside of France, and has traditionally educated much of France’s political and diplomatic officials and civil servants.  In the Fall of 2012, two Bangladeshi students from AUW will go to Paris to spend a full academic year at Sciences Po.  The students are Sumpa Sakar, who studies Politics, Philosophy & Economics at AUW and intends to earn a PhD in Economics and become a professor, and Taslima Khanam, who studies Public Health at AUW and aspires to become a psychologist and improve the status of women in Bangladesh.  Next year, Sciences Po will send its students to study at AUW.  The exchange program is set to last for at least five years, with the number of students increasing as it goes on, and the possibility of further collaboration between the universities in the future.

AUW was also fortunate to have a number of international visiting faculty participate in its inaugural Summer Term, which ran from May to July, 2012.  International visiting professors included: Dolores Brynes, professor of Anthropology at Colgate University and Cornell University; Michele Mekel, professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Law; Jason Homer, Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, San Diego; and Abu Shaheb, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland.  Two volunteer faculty members also came from the University of Trento in Italy to teach European Literature and Economics.  The University welcomes new opportunities to have visiting faculty and would like to encourage proposals from any professors or institutions interested in such collaboration.

Also this summer, AUW developed a relationship with Philips Exeter Academy in the United States, sending two Access Academy graduates to attend the school’s summer program in 2012.  The University is also working with Aalborg University, Denmark’s premier higher education institution, to develop its graduate program in Computer Science and Information Technology.  Aalborg will also send two faculty members to AUW in the Fall of 2012 to teach courses in the Computer Science department.

Also in the 2012 academic year, Fahmida Zaman, a second-year Philosophy, Politics and Economics major at AUW, has been selected to participate in an exchange program organized by the U.S. State Department.  Fahmida will receive a full scholarship to St. Catherine University in Minneapolis, Minnesota to study International Relations.  The Northeast and South Asia Undergraduate Exchange Program selects “outstanding students from underrepresented sectors of the Near East and South Asia,” and “aims to provide a meaningful experience for a diverse group of emerging student leaders.”

The University is proud to be collaborating with international institutions in order to expand its students’ horizons and enhance their educational opportunities.  In addition, these partnerships allow students to develop international academic and professional networks.  Such networks will serve AUW’s students well as they become the next generation of global women leaders.

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AUW’s Women in Public Service Summer Institute

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, August 17, 2012: The Asian University for Women hosted the Women in Public Service Project’s (WPSP) Summer Leadership Institute in collaboration with the U.S. State Department and the Seven Sisters women’s colleges.  The inaugural ceremony was held on August 1, with distinguished guests including Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, Bangladesh’s Honorable State Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs.  Speakers at the ceremony included Fahima Aziz, AUW’s Vice Chancellor, and Ryan Bradeen, Cultural Affairs Officer for Education and Exchanges at the American Center.  Leading the institute is Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Director of the WPSP's inaugural institute at Wellesley College and head of the Global Women's Leadership Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. 

From the beginning, Dr. De Silva has made the Institute a participatory and hands-on experience for the students.  During the first session, focused on the power of storytelling, five student leaders presented narratives of their journeys to AUW.  Fellow student Ankhi Banik noted that the speakers “sounded determined and passionate to bring changes to their society.”  After their presentations, Dr. De Silva “highlighted the[ir] strengths and brought to the surface what was most moving and powerful,” helping them to cultivate the skills of public speaking and crafting effective narratives.    

Later that day, the students broke into groups to role-play scenarios that brought out current policy issues, including women on the Afghan Supreme Court, job discrimination, the gender gap in education, and sexual harassment.  Students were encouraged not only to inhabit the roles that they were given and to learn about the issues, but to propose and discuss policy solutions.  Dr. De Silva emphasized strategies for advocacy and the importance of networking throughout the workshops—topics that have struck a chord with AUW students.  One student leader said in her presentation, “The women with me now will make change[s] in the future and support me, and I will have that same responsibility for anyone who comes after me.”  Another remarked, “Only when I came to AUW did I get a senses of community—that I belonged to a community of women who thought like me and shared my ambitions…I want to give all women the opportunities I have been given.”

The Summer Institute has also engaged representatives from the Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers Association (BNWLA), for a two-day session on combating violence against women within a human rights framework.  For the first day, Tawhida Khondke, BNWLA’s Director, Jamila Akhter, Project Coordinator, and Mitali Jahan, Program Manager led a program about lawmaking on human trafficking in Asia.  Students broke into groups and were charged with tasks such as “creat[ing] an outreach campaign on honor crimes” or “discuss[ing] ways in which anti-violence against women can be integrated into the curriculum in schools.”  In this way, the students are not only absorbing new information but using their own critical reasoning skills to develop effective solutions to the most pressing issues facing the region.  The second day of the collaboration with BNWLA included a field trip to visit the organization’s offices in Chittagong and learn firsthand about the services that they provide to women and children in the community.

The Institute ended on August 15. Dr. De Silva and the students explored traditional gender roles, the impact of mentoring, women’s leadership as smart economics, and female social entrepreneurship. 

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Young Joon Kim Appointed Chairman of AUW Support Foundation

Cambridge, MA, USA –  July 27, 2012 – Jack Meyer, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the AUW Support Foundation, has announced that he will step down fromhis current position. Mr. Meyer was elected to the Board of Directors of the AUW Support Foundation in 2001 and became chairman of the Foundation in 2005.  He has been a passionate and devoted leader of the AUW initiative from the very beginning and has actively participated in every aspect of the university's development.  In recognition of his service, the Foundation's Board of Directors has unanimously elected him as Chairman Emeritus.

Mr. Meyer has also generously supported the university, becoming its single largest financial supporter over the past eleven years.  Reflecting on AUW’s progress, he said, “AUW has come a long way since its beginnings more than a decade ago.  The graduation of our first class of students next summer will mark yet another milestone.  I look forward to watching these graduates contribute to positive change in their communities, the region, and the world at large.”

Mr. Meyer will be succeeded as Chairman of the Board by Mr. Young Joon ("YJ") Kim.  Mr. Kim is a Partner at the international law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and currently works out of the firm's Hong Kong offices.  Mr. Kim is also a trustee of the Asian University for Women.  He was educated at Yale College and at Harvard Law School. Of his new position, Mr. Kim said, “While I'm truly honored and excited to be asked to lead this critically important endeavor of marshaling global support for AUW, at the same time I'm humbled by a grave sense of responsibility of following up on the phenomenal work Jack and others have done over the past decade or so for the Foundation.  I pledge to do my utmost for the sake of all the AUW students, present and future."

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AUW to Host the Women in Public Service Summer Institute

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, July 25, 2012:  In collaboration with the U.S. State Department and the Seven Sisters women’s colleges, the Asian University for Women will host the Women in Public Service Summer Institute from August 1 to August 15, 2012. The collaborative Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) seeks to “build a generation of women leaders who will invest in their countries and communities, provide leadership in their governments, and change the way global solutions are forged,” making AUW an ideal partner and host for the project.

AUW’s Summer Institute will be a three-week public service and leadership training program dedicated to strategy and solutions for the most pressing societal concerns, and the public sector roles that the women of Asia will take on in tackling them. The workshops will enable participants to focus not only on Big Ideas, but also on the most effective ways to implement them through governmental institutions. In the summer of 2013, a number of AUW Summer Institute 2012 participants will return to their home countries to implement their own Women in Public Service Institutes, which will be uniquely tailored to their home contexts and allow the students to apply the skills that they have learned. These students will then return to AUW in the fall of 2013 to present their projects to the greater AUW student body.                                            

Thirty current undergraduate students and 13 incoming Access Academy students will participate in the Summer Institute.  The students have been selected based on their academic performance, record of extracurricular and community activities, and their ideas about solutions to social issues and the most effective ways to implement those solutions through governmental institutions. Several students will also be selected to live-blog and live-tweet the Institute events as part of the social media initiative of the WPSP.

The courses will be taught by Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis (S.J.D.), with modules of study including Women’s Rights as Human Rights, Ethics in Public Service, Listening to Women’s Voices and Narratives, and the Role of the Media in Advancing Gender Equality, Accountability, and Good Governance.  Dr. de Silva de Alwis is the Director of the WPSP's inaugural institute at Wellesley College. She will be heading the Global Women's Leadership Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars where she will direct the WPSP and the Council of Women World Leaders - a network of current and former women heads of state.

AUW’s Summer Institute will follow the inaugural Women in Public Service Institute at Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in the United States.  The next WPSP Institute, entitled Women’s Leadership: Public Service and Global Health, will be held in Paris, France and co-sponsored by Smith College and the U.S. State Department.  Future institutes will be co-sponsored by Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, and Mount Holyoke College, all members of the Seven Sisters colleges, which are the leading women’s colleges in the United States.

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AUW Vice Chancellor to Receive Outstanding Alumni Award

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, July 19, 2012:  Dr. Fahima Aziz, Vice Chancellor of the Asian University for Women, has been named the 2011-2012 recipient of the University of Minnesota’s Applied Economics Department Outstanding Alumni Award.  Dr. Aziz received her PhD from the University of Minnesota before going on to chair the Departments of Management and Economics at Hamline University, also in Minnesota, for ten years.  She left Hamline in order to join the Asian University for Women earlier this year, in May, 2012.

Dr. Aziz was informed of her selection by her former colleague and Head of the Applied Economics Department, Professor Brian Buhr.  Dr. Buhr noted that the decision was based on her “tremendous record” of “significant and long lasting contributions in applied economics.”  The Outstanding Alumni Award is given to alumni who make exceptional contributions in industry, the public sector, or academic fields, as Dr. Aziz has done.  The nominating committee praised her commitment to excellence in teaching, and to the ideals of the Applied Economics Department and the University of Minnesota as a whole, evidenced in such achievements as her Endowed Alkire Chair in International Business at Hamline University, her leadership of Hamline’s environmental studies program, and of course, her Vice Chancellorship at AUW.  They noted that her work as AUW’s Vice Chancellor in particular provided an impetus for the nomination, and that they were pleased that the timing of the award coincided with this new endeavor in Dr. Aziz’s impressive career.

Informing Dr. Aziz of this honor, her former colleague spoke warmly of the “vicarious pride” that her alma mater takes in her accomplishments—a pride that AUW, as her new academic home, enthusiastically shares.  The Outstanding Alumni Award will be presented at the Applied Economics Department’s Centennial Celebration on September 21, 2012.  The award ceremony will be part of a roster of events celebrating the department’s 100th anniversary, including seminars by faculty, students and alumni on current topics, as well as a dinner reception, and Dr. Aziz hopes to travel to Minnesota for the occasion. 

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Leiden, The Netherlands and Chittagong, Bangladesh — May 3, 2012 — The IKEA Foundation and the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh announced today a programme through which 100 students studying at the Asian University for Women will be sponsored by Ikea Foundation for their entire five-year period of study at the University.  Students from nine countries attending AUW have been named to  hold these scholarships.                                       Mr. Per Heggenes

The Ikea Scholarships have been awarded to students from Afghanistan (7), Bangladesh (40), Bhutan (3), Cambodia (2), India (15), Nepal (13), Pakistan (2), Sri Lanka (16) and Vietnam (2).  The Ikea Foundation has agreed to contribute US $5 million to AUW toward this initiative.

In announcing this major grant to the Asian University for Women, Mr. Per Heggenes, the CEO of IKEA Foundation said:  “Women’s education is no doubt a powerful tool for improving the lives of children in developing countries.”  He went on to say that “AUW is making a vital contribution to this area.  Having personally visited AUW and met some of the students, faculty and staff, I am excited and optimistic that this partnership will be of enduring value”.

AUW’s Acting Vice Chancellor Mr. Kamal Ahmad gratefully acknowledged Ikea Foundation’s support and noted that the Foundation’s support will be most critical in continuing the University’s commitment to support the education of the most talented women in the region irrespective of their economic backgrounds.  He said “AUW is helping create a new network of women leaders whose life experiences and social commitments combined with the excellent education provided at AUW will propel them into vital changemakers in the region.  This work would not be possible without the support of Ikea Foundation and others like it.” 

About the Asian University for Women

The Asian University for Women ( provides both a pre-university preparatory programme as well as a four-year undergraduate programme in the liberal arts and sciences.  It is chartered by the Parliament of Bangladesh as an independent international university.  Currently in its fourth year of operations, AUW has 450 students from 12 countries across Asia.

About the IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in developing countries by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and sustainable family income. Currently-funded programmes benefit an estimated 100 million children. Learn more at

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CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, April 3, 2012:  The Asian University for Women announced today that its Board of Trustees has unanimously appointed Dr. Fahima Aziz as the next Vice Chancellor of the University.  Dr. Aziz, a US national of Bangladeshi origin, is a professor of economics and currently holds the Endowed Alkire Chair in International Business at Hamline University in Minnesota, USA. She is expected to arrive in Chittagong in early May. 

                                                                      Fahima Aziz: New AUW VC

Dr. Aziz obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College, a Masters from the University of Massachusetts, and a PhD in from the University of Minnesota – all in economics.  Dr. Aziz chaired the Departments of Management and Economics at Hamline University for ten years; she had concurrently led the environmental studies program there for seven years.  In accepting the appointment as the Vice Chancellor of the Asian University for Women, Dr. Aziz commented:  “I am drawn to AUW because of its mission to educate women for lives of leadership and service. I am a passionate supporter of women’s education and educational access in general.  AUW embodies all of these values.  I am very excited and look forward to working collaboratively with AUW’s dedicated faculty, staff and amazing students”.

The appointment of Dr. Fahima Aziz brings to a conclusion a seven-month international search that was carried out by the university to identify the best candidate possible for the leadership of the university.  The search committee for the appointment of the Vice Chancellor was co-chaired by the University’s Chancellor and international human rights advocate Mrs. Cherie Blair and University trustee and the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr. Dipu Moni.  Other members of the search committee included Mr. Kamal Ahmad, Acting Vice Chancellor of AUW; Dr. Amit Chakma, President of the University of Western Ontario in Canada; Dr. Meenakshi Gopinath, Principal of Lady Shri Ram College in India; Dr. Patricia Greene, Distinguished Professor and Former Provost of Babson College; Dr. Jane McAuliffe, President of Bryn Mawr College in the United States; and Dr. Sangita Rayamajhi, Professor of Humanities at the AUW.  The international search firm of Russell Reynolds assisted with the search.

Dr. Aziz’s appointment has been warmly welcomed: Mrs. Cherie Blair, the University’s Chancellor who also co-chaired the search committee that made the recommendation for the appointment to the University’s trustees, said:  “I am delighted that Fahima Aziz has accepted AUW’s invitation to serve as Vice Chancellor.  She will be a terrific leader for the university as well as a wonderful role model for our students.  I look forward to working with her to make AUW into a greater success.”  Professor Sheikha Al-Misnad, President of Qatar University and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of AUW commented:  “AUW is fortunate to have Dr. Aziz as its incoming Vice Chancellor.  She will bring to AUW her deep commitment to liberal arts education.  Her knowledge and understanding of Bangladesh and the region and her academic experience in the liberal arts have prepared her well for this position.”   Mr. Jack Meyer, Chairman of AUW’s Support Foundation has commented:  “I am very pleased that Fahima Aziz is joining AUW as Vice Chancellor. Fahima's record not only testifies to her long and distinguished commitment to liberal arts education but also to the issues of change and development that animate the mission of the university.”  AUW’s Acting Vice Chancellor Mr. Kamal Ahmad echoed the enthusiasm for Fahima’s appointment, noting that Fahima “combines a vision for building AUW as a center of excellence with an understanding of what is required to build this institution, brick by brick, over time.”

At Hamline University where Fahima is a member of the faculty, news of her appointment was received warmly.  Dr. Linda Hanson, President of Hamline University said:  “On behalf of Hamline University, I offer warm congratulations to Dr. Fahima Aziz. With her years of experience and the contributions she has made to Hamline students and her service as a valued colleague, we enthusiastically wish her every success.”  Dr. Lynn Pasquerella, the President of Mount Holyoke College in the US where Dr. Aziz had studied as an undergraduate commented: “I want to congratulate all members of the Asian University for Women community on their selection of Fahima Aziz as Vice Chancellor.  Fahima is a celebrated alumna of Mount Holyoke College and her daughter recently graduated from Mount Holyoke as well; thus, her selection is a source of great pride for our community.  We look forward to collaborating with Fahima and AUW as we advance our shared mission in educating women from around the world in the liberal arts.”

Congresswoman Betty McCollum from Dr. Aziz’s home state of Minnesota in the United States also offered her congratulations.  She said: “During my January visit to Asian University for Women, I was deeply impressed by the courage, convictions, and the commitment of the young female students I met.  Learning that a Minnesotan has been chosen to lead this university could not make me happier.”  She went on to say that “I want to congratulate Dr. Fahima Aziz and I know her leadership will be an asset.”   Dr. Brian Rosenberg, President of Macalester College said: "I congratulate Dr. Fahima Aziz on her appointment as Vice Chancellor of the Asian University for Women. Having worked with her during her time as an American Council on Education Fellow at Macalester College and as a colleague on the Board of Trustees at Saint Paul Academy and Summit School, I know that she will do a splendid job."

The appointment of Dr. Fahima Aziz is the culmination of a major leadership reorganization at the Asian University for Women.  Earlier in the year the University announced the appointment of three deans:  Dr. Kathleen Hewett-Smith, formerly Associate Dean of International Liberal Arts and a professor of South Asian Literature at Bard College in New York started in March 2012 as Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences;  Geneticist Dr. Jinnie Garrett who has served for over 20 years as Professor of Biology at Hamilton College will start on July 1 as the Dean of Life Sciences and Public Health while Dr. Ashok Keshari, long-time professor of environmental engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi who has been on the AUW faculty for the past two years, has been named as Dean of Physical Sciences and Engineering.

The Board of Trustees of the Asian University for Women is chaired by Professor Sheikha Al-Misnad who is the President of Qatar University; Mr. Young Joon Kim, a Partner at the international law firm of Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy serves as the Secretary of the Board; and Mr. Kapil Jain, a partner at an international accounting firm serves as the Treasurer and Chairman of the Audit Committee of the Board.

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London, UK—March 21, 2012—The Asian University for Women (AUW) is pleased to announce the establishment of a UK Support Foundation based in London.  The foundation was launched at a gala hosted by Sunita and Surinder Arora of Arora International Hotels, and attended by over 70 distinguished guests.  The attendees were addressed by Cherie Blair, AUW Chancellor; Kamal Ahmad, Founder and Acting Vice-Chancellor; Surinder Arora, co-chair of the UK Support Foundation; as well as current AUW students Mursal Hamraz from Afghanistan and Aswathy Vijayakumar from India.

Chancellor Blair who, like the majority of AUW students, was the first in her family to receive a university education, spoke of the importance and lasting effects of empowering women through education.  She exhorted the audience to take note that “it is access to higher education that enables women to emerge as leaders within their communities, become role models to the next generation of young women, and overturn the status quo that limits the rights and status of women in society.” 

The students, Aswathy and Mursal, spoke about their personal experiences with empowerment and education at AUW.  Aswathy summed up her experience at AUW succinctly, saying “In three words I would describe my experiences at AUW as stupendous, treasured and life-changing,” and informing the listeners that “it was at AUW that I learned to be an innovative professional and a service-oriented leader.”  Mursal spoke passionately about the impact her AUW education has made on her and her plans to share this gift of empowerment with her community: “I love the concept of AUW, an all-women’s university where Asian women gather to become inspired, and to gain confidence and knowledge from each other. Undeniably I want to use this concept to inspire and enrich the lives of Afghan women through education and effect positive change.”

The Asian University for Women UK Support Foundation will be chaired by Mr. and Mrs. Surinder and Sunita Arora.  The launch dinner included the announcement of the appointment of Brenda Trenowden, Managing Director and Head of UK & Ireland, Global Client Management at BNY Mellon as the UK Support Foundation’s Treasurer.  Also announced was a partnership between the AUW UK Support Foundation and law firm of Clifford Chance which will sponsor one scholarship as well as host four AUW students as interns next summer.  The law firm of Dorsey & Whitney provided pro bono legal support for the creation of the AUW UK Support Foundation.

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Chittagong, Bangladesh – February 13, 2012 – The Asian University for Women announced today the appointment of Dr. Kathleen Hewett-Smith as Dean of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Dr. Jinnie M. Garrett as Dean of Life Sciences.  Dr. Ashok Keshari has also been named as Dean of Mathematics and Engineering. Dr. Hewett-Smith is currently Associate Dean for International Liberal Arts at Bard College in New York, USA, while Dr. Garrett, also a U.S. national, is a tenured senior Professor of Biology at Hamilton College in New York.  Dr. Keshari, an Indian national, joined AUW two years ago after having served for nearly 20 years on the faculty of the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.

Dr. Kathleen Hewett-Smith

As Dean of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Hewett-Smith will oversee AUW’s undergraduate programmes in (i) Politics, Philosophy, and Economics; and (ii) Asian Studies.  In addition, she will be responsible for AUW’s unique one-year pre-collegiate Access Academy that prepares incoming students in English, Math, Computers, and in general learning skills prior to their matriculation into the undergraduate programme.

Dr. Hewett-Smith will arrive in Chittagong in March.  On accepting her appointment at AUW, Dr. Hewett-Smith commented: “AUW aspires, as do I, to contribute to the creation of a more humane and just world by implementing the core values of liberal education and making that education available to the widest possibly constituency. AUW's students are smart and deeply committed, its faculty talented and energetic, and its staff hard-working and creative -- and all are willing to put in the work it takes to make the University great. It is not often that an admirable mission finds such successful articulation in a very real world. I am honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the academic development of such an exciting young institution."

Professor Kathleen Hewett-Smith comes to AUW from Bard College, New York, where she served as the Associate Dean of International Studies and Associate Director of the Institute for International Liberal Education. While there, Dr. Hewett-Smith contributed to the development of Bard's collaborative international liberal education projects in Russia, Africa, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, and Hungary. She also oversaw the development of the Liberal International Studies Programme at Bard
College, New York.

With research and teaching interests in both Asian and Medieval English Literatures and Cultures, Dr. Hewett-Smith brings an accomplished and diverse academic and administrative background to AUW. She earned her B.A. with Honours from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Literature and Literary Theory from the University of California, Irvine.  She is the author of a book of essays on medieval poet William Langland, as well as numerous papers and articles on topics ranging from medieval mysticism to globalization and Asian mega-cities. The recipient of both teaching and research awards, Dr. Hewett-Smith is presently developing a book-length study of the long post-colonial novel, with an emphasis on the literature in English of South Asia and Africa. She has also taken groups of faculty and students on research trips abroad to both China and India.

Dr. Hewett-Smith will be joined at AUW by her husband Mr. Stan Smith who has been appointed as the Director of the Office of Civic Engagement.

Dr. Jinnie M. Garrett

As Dean of Life Sciences, Dr. Jinnie Garrett will oversee AUW’s undergraduate programmes in Biological Sciences and in Public Health.  She will also plan and direct the development of the laboratories and other learning and research resources in support of the teaching programmes in biological sciences and public health.  On confirmation of her appointment as the incoming Dean of Life Sciences at AUW, Dr. Garrett commented: “I am inspired by the mission of the Asian University for Women to provide a quality liberal arts education to women from countries all over Asia and am delighted that I will be able to contribute to that mission. A strong foundation in science and critical thinking are fundamental to full citizenship in the global society of the 21st century.  I believe that AUW is in a unique position to develop innovative educational programs inspired by the creativity and needs of its exceptional students and look forward to being part of its development."

Dr. Garrett received an M.Sc. in Chemistry from Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario in Canada and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas in the United States. After completing post-doctoral research in molecular genetics at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, California, USA, she moved to Hamilton College in New York where she has served as a member of the Department of Biology since 1986. She conducts research in yeast molecular genetics and also studies the microbial composition of samples from distinct environments using metagenomics. She has published over 20 scientific articles in leading journals and has been the recipient of numerous research grants from private foundations as well as the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.  Dr. Garrett has extensive interests in genetics education and in the application of genetics in society. She has published papers about expanding the range of genetics education to include ethical, legal, and social applications of the science as well as focused articles on communicating science. She is currently co-editing a 2-volume set on women's cancers for Praeger Publishing. She is a member of numerous professional societies including American Women in Science (Education Committee), Genetics Society of America, Genetics and Society Institute, International Society for the Study of the History, and Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology. At Hamilton College, she has served as the Director of the Social Justice Project and as a mentor to students from the Posse Foundation, both organizations that are committed to ensuring equitable access to higher education.

Dr. Garrett will join AUW on July 1 of this year on leave from Hamilton.  Her daughter Corinne will also enroll at AUW as a visiting freshman.

Vice Chancellor Search

In the meantime, the Asian University for Women is completing its search for a permanent Vice Chancellor under an international search committee established by the Board of Trustees.  The VC search committee is co-chaired by AUW Chancellor Mrs. Cherie Blair and AUW trustee and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni; other members include:  Mr. Kamal Ahmad, Acting Vice Chancellor of AUW;  Dr. Amit Chakma, President of the University of Western Ontario in Canada; Dr. Jane McAuliffe, President of Bryn Mawr College in the USA; Professor Meenakshi Gopinath, Principal, Lady Shri Ram College in India; Professor Patricia Greene, former Provost and Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College in the USA; and Professor Sangita Rayamajhi, Professor of Literature at the Asian University for Women. The Vice Chancellor appointment is expected to be announced when the University’s Board of Trustees meet on May 2, 2012 in Bangladesh.

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Chittagong, Bangladesh—December 5th 2011 - Anjalendran, one of Sri Lanka’s leading and influential architects visited the Asian University for Women (AUW) on December 5, 2011. The University is in the early stages of exploring a possible collaboration with Mr. Anjalendran in the making of its permanent campus, particularly for the design and construction of the student housing. The permanent campus which is currently under construction is situated in Pahartoli, six kilometers away from Chittagong city.

The celebrated architect spoke to students and staff of AUW about architecture, his life and works, at a special event organized by the University. Talking about his work Mr Anjalendran said, “For me, what matters more than the building itself, is what you see from the building. The building is always subservient to the view. This is the opposite of a western tradition where the building is the most important element in architecture”. 

A student of the prolific and influential Geoffrey Bawa, Anjalendran's buildings are known for their simple elegance and beauty, modern spirit, and fusion of Sri Lanka’s rich cultural and historic traditions. His most significant work to date has been the series of projects he undertook for SOS Children’s Villages International in Sri Lanka over a period of fifteen years. This included orphanages, schools, retirement homes, and training centers. His works, especially the projects for SOS Children’s Villages, are known for the use of cheap, locally procured and sustainable material and minimal energy consumption.

Addressing the students at AUW, Mr. Anjalendran emphasized the importance of introspection, self-discovery and finding “one’s own truth”. He advised them to pursue what they truly believed in without compromising. “You have to discover your own truth. That is what will keep you steady wherever you go… If you are going to be leaders, you need to understand that whatever you are taught (in formal education) will only be a background and will definitely help you, but whatever you teach yourself will be the truth that will see u through.” 

Talking about environment and preservation of trees, Mr. Anjalendran said he believes in avoiding cutting of trees and tries to find ways of constructing buildings close to or around trees thus incorporating existing trees into the design. This idea is best displayed in The House beneath the Banyan Tree, a house which he designed to fit around a mature banyan in such a way that the branches and tendrils of the tree almost touch the structure but the roots are isolated and protected from the foundations of the house.

He added that he was very pleased to be in a country where polythene bags were banned. “When I went to the grocery store earlier today, I was happy to see that my groceries were given to me in a muslin bag, rather than a plastic bag.”

The master plan of AUW’s permanent campus, which is spread over 140 acres, was completed by renowned Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. Moshe Safdie and Associates will also be designing the academic building of the new campus.

Also speaking at the event, AUW founder and Acting Vice-Chancellor Mr. Kamal Ahmad said: “When it comes to student housing, we want a home for our students which would be aesthetically pleasing and delightful but also one that would have its own cheerfulness. In that search, we found Geoffrey Bawa first, and then of course in the context of Bawa’s work, the legacy that Anjalendran has built became very appealing.”

Mr. Ahmad added that “what appeals to us in Anjalendran’s work is that it represents our heritage and speaks to the conditions of this region. That’s the dream that brings Anjalendran here and we are very hopeful that this visit and these interactions will lead to something transformative in the life of AUW. We hope to have a campus which will carry the best traditions of the West as exemplified by Moshe Safdie’s work, but also not shortchanging our own tradition in ways of living and doing things”.

Anjalendran is highly regarded as a teacher and has lectured widely in India and Pakistan as well as in Sri Lanka. He has decades of teaching and designing experience which have bestowed him with gold medals, awards, and international honor and respect. He has won four SLIA Design Awards and has been a recipient of the Herman Gmeiner Silver Medal for work executed for SOS Kinderdorf International. He was also the winner of the South Asian Architecture Commendation Award for the SOS Children's Village, Anuradhapura. More recently, in October 2011, he won the ‘Golden award for global contribution to architecture,’ an award conferred jointly by leading architecture journal Architecture+Design, and Spectrum Foundation.

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Chittagong, Bangladesh—February 21, 2011—The Asian University for Women (AUW) is pleased to announce that the Kuwait Awqaf Public Foundation (KAPF) has pledged to support the construction of an amphitheater and library in AUW’s new Campus Center with a donation of USD $550,000.  The Campus Center serves as the first, multipurpose academic building of AUW’s new campus, and will be located on a site consisting of 130 acres outside the port city of Chittagong.  Construction on the campus site began in November, 2010.

Mr. Mohammad A. Al Jalahma, the Deputy Secretary General of KAPF, traveled to Bangladesh during the Asian University for Women’s recent international symposium, "Imagining Another Future for Asia: Ideas and Pathways for Change," to sign a letter of agreement with AUW Founder and Acting Vice-Chancellor, Mr. Kamal Ahmad.  The symposium brought experts from around the world to Dhaka to discuss the challenges confronting Asia.

Mr. Al Jalahma noted that KAPF is eager to support the Asian University for Women to meet KAPF’s goals of "easing the burden of needy students through granting scholarships.  This is expected to raise the profile of women and enable them to play a positive role."

Mr. Al Jalahma is already well-acquainted with the Asian University for Women.  He attended an AUW gala event in Kuwait in January, 2010 that was hosted by Mrs. Lulwa Al-Mulla, noted Kuwaiti women’s rights activist and recipient of AUW’s 2011 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Rights, with chief guest Mrs. Cherie Blair, AUW Chancellor and leading human rights lawyer, and Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, also in attendance.  Shortly thereafter, Mr. Al Jalahma traveled to Chittagong to see the University firsthand.

An AUW delegation consisting of Mrs. Cherie Blair, Mr. Kamal Ahmad, and Mrs. Lulwa Al Mulla also recently met with the Prime Minister of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, to present a request for Kuwaiti support in the establishment of a math, science and engineering centre at AUW.  In recalling the long-standing association between Bangladesh and Kuwait, the Kuwaiti Prime Minister spoke of his close relationship with the Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, and mentioned that Bongabandu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had been like a father to His Highness the Emir.  He assured the AUW delegation that the Asian University for Women had Kuwait’s full support.


Washington, D.C. — February 27, 2011 — The Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam His Excellency H.E. Mr. Dato Paduka Haji Yusoff Haji Abdul Hamid handed over today a cheque for 500,000 Brunei dollars (USD $379,477.84) to Mrs. Janet Montag, the Chair of the Fundraising Committee of the Board of the Asian University for Women Support Foundation.  The Bangladesh Embassy staff was also present at the simple but highly dignified hand-over ceremony.

Mrs. Montag gratefully acknowledged the support for AUW from the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.  She recalled with great appreciation that when former Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, first brought the Asian University for Women to the attention of His Majesty, asserting that “I believe by focusing on the highest quality of education for a group whose talents have not been easily recognized and creating avenues for wide regional networking, the Asian University for Women could make a difference,” His Majesty instantly recognized the power of the AUW model, and responded, "I much appreciate the initiative and assure you that Brunei Darussalam will support it in whatever way we can.”

Mrs. Montag also noted that two students and one faculty member from Brunei's Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali participated in the recent AUW symposium on Imagining Another Future for Asia: Ideas and Pathways for Change, as an indicator of how the Asian University for Women has already opened a channel for dialogue between young people in South Asia and those in South East Asia. Also present at the AUW conference was Her Excellency Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah, the First Lady of Malaysia, whose keynote address on the importance of women’s education—not only in Malaysia and Bangladesh but across the region—highlighted the significant role of AUW in fostering regional connections.

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Blair recognized for international advocacy of women’s education

Dhaka, Bangladesh – January 25, 2011 – The Asian University for Women (AUW) is pleased to announce the appointment of Cherie Blair, a leading international lawyer and human rights advocate and the wife of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as the first Chancellor of the three-year old University. Kamal Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer of AUW, made the announcement during the opening proceedings of the three-day international symposium entitled “Imagining Another Future for Asia: Ideas and Pathways for Change” in Dhaka, Bangladesh from January 20-22, 2011.

"Cherie Blair’s staunch support for women’s rights throughout the world presents her as an ideal candidate for this position," said Kamal Ahmad. "Her leadership at the Asian University for Women will ensure that this institution will continue to thrive, and she will serve as a role model for all the girls that pass through our halls."

As Chancellor of the University, Mrs. Blair will serve as the titular head of the institution and is expected to play a significant role as an international advocate for the university and women’s education, in addition to officiating in commencement proceedings. Unanimously elected by the University’s International Support Committee, co-chaired by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Lone Dybkjaer, a Member of Parliament and the former Minister of Environment in Denmark, Mrs. Blair has been officially recognized as the face of the University for years to come. Other members of the Support Committee include Koichiro Matsuura, former Director-General, UNESCO; Mamphela Ramphele, former Managing Director of the World Bank; George Soros, noted hedge fund manager and philanthropist; Donald Johnston, former Secretary-General of Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and former Attorney-General, Government of Canada; Madame Kang Kum-Sil, former Minister of Justice in the Republic of Korea; Rasha Al-Sabah, Under Secretary for Higher Education, Kuwait; Jack Meyer, prominent hedge fund manager and former President of the Harvard School Management Company; Sang Chung, former Prime Minister of South Korea-designate and former President of Ewha Woman’s University in South Korea.

AUW’s unique charter ratified under an Act of the Parliament makes it wholly institutionally autonomous and academically independent. The charter provides that the Chancellor is elected independently (as opposed to being designated as an ex-officio function).

Since the University’s founding in 2008, Mrs. Blair has been actively involved in the development of AUW and has campaigned globally on behalf of the University in places such as Qatar, Hong Kong, and Kuwait. As the appointed Chancellor, she will continue to utilize her time and energy to raise awareness about AUW. Prior to her involvement with AUW, Mrs. Blair was already heavily involved with Bangladesh in her capacity as a legal advocate for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her house arrest.

Prime Minister Hasina warmly welcomed the appointment. "We hope that she will decide to come back to Bangladesh often in her role as Chancellor," she said.

In January 2010, Mrs. Blair conferred fellowships to ten outstanding students at AUW that had demonstrated superior academic ability and outstanding leadership skills. The fellowships, created through a partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, were awarded to students who exhibit outstanding leadership abilities.

"I fight, personally and professionally, for women’s equality because I passionately believe it is a fundamental matter of principle and justice," said Mrs. Blair. "It is clear that AUW’s trail-blazing graduates will provide young women across the region with much-needed examples of leadership, raising ambitions to help unlock more potential."

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Award Conferred for Al-Mulla’s Unremitting Efforts for the Advancement of Women’s Rights

Dhaka, Bangladesh – January 25, 2011 – The Asian University for Women (AUW) has awarded Mrs. Lulwa Al-Mulla the 2011 AUW Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Women’s Rights. Conferred by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, the award recognizes Mrs. Al-Mulla as a human rights activist that has forged a pioneering path to end the denial of suffrage and bring an equal system of constitutional and social rights to women in Kuwait.

At the opening ceremony for AUW’s three-day international symposium entitled "Imagining Another Future for Asia: Ideas and Pathways for Change" in Dhaka, Bangladesh from January 20-22, 2011, founder and acting Vice-Chancellor of AUW Kamal Ahmad thanked Mrs. Al-Mulla for her "life’s work to speak and work on behalf of the voiceless and the disempowered in many parts of the world. While others may have been inhibited to take action, you have always managed to muster the courage to fight for what you considered to be just."

"Faced with an archaic system that denied women’s right to vote, you and your fellow campaigners camped outside the tents where male politicians had gathered, staged protests in the streets, and even brought your battle to the courts, where you served as the named plaintiff in the first lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Kuwaiti Election law,” read the official citation of her award.

Mrs. Al-Mulla’s campaign culminated in the right for women to vote in Kuwait in 2005 and she has since dedicated her efforts to educating women about the Kuwaiti political system and training them to become elected members of parliament.

In her position as Secretary General of the Kuwait-based non-governmental organization "Women Cultural and Social Society," which she has held since 1992, Mrs. Al-Mulla has founded numerous health and social programs aimed at improving the quality of life for Kuwaiti women. In addition, Mrs. Al-Mulla has been actively involved in the Palestinian Cause and is the co-founder and President of the Kuwaitis for Jerusalem Committee.

Past recipients of the Asian University for Women Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Women’s Rights have included Kathy Matsui, head of Economics, Commodities, and Strategy Research in Asia, chief Japan equity strategist and the co-head of Asia Investment Research for Goldman Sachs, who authored the term "womeneconomics" to signify the loss of economic welfare due to discrimination against women.

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The Asian University for Women in Chittagong will celebrate its second graduation of students from its Access Academy at the Chittagong Club Auditorium on Saturday, July 17. 137 students drawn from twelve countries -- Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Bhutan, China, and Myanmar -- will be awarded their graduation degree in recognition of successfully completing this year-long preparatory program for entrance into the university. The students, who are all residents at the University, have pursued an intense program of study in English, math, computers and critical thinking skills in the course of the program.

The Honorable Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni, who also serves as the Chairman of the AUW Bangladesh Board of Advisors, will attend as Chief Guest, while the Honorable State Minister for Enviorment Dr. Hasan Mahmud will speak as a special guest.

Reflecting on her year at AUW, Parwana Fayyaz, a student from Afghanistan, commented: “AUW is my house of hope, garden of my wisdom, and a shelter for my future. AUW means my inner world and it is a wonderful, colorful, and a blissful world.” Another student, Sangji Zhuoma from the People’s Republic of China said, “AUW--a new rising star in Asia, a starting line to future leaders, a symbol of freedom.

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Chittagong, Bangladesh—June 16, 2010—The Asian University for Women announces the appointment of Dr. Ashok Keshari, currently a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi as its new Dean of Math, Science, and Engineering. A recognized expert in the field of environmental engineering, Dr. Keshari brings to AUW a strong academic background as a teacher and a scholar and a talent for building new academic programs.

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March 15,2010--The Asian University for Women will host a special screening of the award winning film, Time for School, to address the growing need for better employment and education of women in Asia.

The Yamano School in Yoyogi welcomes award winning film maker Tamara Rosenberg to help raise funds to educate more women in the region.

A similar event held last year raised over 24 million yen, which covered tuition, room, board, books and travel for a full year at the University for 25 students. Kathy Matsui, Co-Chair of the Friends of AUW Japan Support Committee, said, “We are delighted to have Tamara in Japan to present her award-winning documentary and support the efforts of AUW to increase opportunities in higher education for women in South and South East Asia.”

Time for School follows the lives of school children in different regions around the world over a 12-year period. Tamara Rosenberg, the producer of the award-winning PBS documentary, said, “It’s time we recognize the importance of education to women and the impact this has on the economy. AUW does just that with its innovation and rigorous curriculum.”

Ms. Rosenberg will also speak on the global role of education, and the mission of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to have primary and secondary education available to all children by 2015. Two students currently enrolled at Asian University for Women will also speak about their own educational paths which brought them to AUW.

The screening is open to the public. A minimum donation of 5,000 yen is suggested to support AUW’s fund raising efforts. Advance payment can be made online ahead of the event, or directly at the event.

For further information please visit


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Chittagong, Bangladesh—January 6, 2010-Cherie Blair, a leading international lawyer and human rights advocate and wife of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will arrive in Dhaka on a four-day visit on Friday, January 8 to launch the Cherie Blair Fellowships at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong where she is a Patron.

While in Bangladesh Mrs. Blair will call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to discuss matters relating to the Asian University for Women. Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni will host a dinner in her honour at the State Guest House where many eminent citizens of the city are expected. She will also meet with the Education Minister and the State Minister for the Environment on issues relating to the University. The British High Commissioner to Bangladesh will also host a dinner in her honour.

Mrs. Blair will visit Chittagong on Saturday, January 9 to speak to the 300 students of the Asian University for Women and confer Cherie Blair Fellowships to 10 outstanding students who have demonstrated superior academic ability and outstanding leadership skills. Following the announcement of the awards she will meet the Cherie Blair Fellows for a lunch.

The Mayor of Chittagong will be hosting a public reception in her honour and a dinner where the Mayor will present a key to the City of Chittagong to the distinguished visitor.

Mrs. Blair will give a public lecture at the Supreme Court Auditorium in Dhaka on "The Human Rights Imperative of Law" under the joint sponsorship of the Asian University for Women and the Bar Council of the Supreme Court.

It may be noted that Mrs. Blair has been an ardent campaigner for the Asian University for Women globally. Last year she was in Hong Kong, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Brunei to rally support for the University. She is the featured speaker at a special event in support of AUW that will be held in Kuwait on January 31 under the sponsorship of AUW Kuwait Support Committee.

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Asian University for Women’s Access Academy to Celebrate First Commencement

Inaugural Class of Students From Six Countries Prepare for Historic Milestone

Read PR in Bangla

Chittagong, Bangladesh—July 6, 2009— The Asian University for Women (AUW), a new, independent institution of higher learning, is holding the Access Academy's first Convocation Ceremony this July 8, 2009, at Chittagong’s Hotel Peninsula.  The Access Academy convocation will put in place a set of new rites that evoke the host country's cultural heritage while giving the students and faculty a sense of achievement.

In a mere fifteen months, the pioneering class of AUW's Access Academy has experienced a world of change.  These one hundred and twenty-nine women from the developing countries of Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, have had the rare opportunity to leap over the obstacles (among them war, poverty, early marriage and gender discrimination) that often limit a woman’s opportunities for getting a college education, a professional career, or the means to contribute to the social and economic development of the region.

At the Access Academy, the university's pre-collegiate bridge program, the students polished their English, math and computer skills while coping with homesickness and adjusting to the religious and cultural differences of their peers.  These students, who were recruited for their outstanding academic ability and willingness to bring about social change, have flourished. The graduating class includes several budding public speakers, microfinance practitioners, martial artists, journalists, documentarians, professors and social workers.

"[The] journey of [AUW’s] Access Academy is an amazing experience as it provides a lot of opportunities to acquire knowledge.  Apart from experiencing a decent life with the students of different cultures, I've learned more about our practical lives from a group of dedicated teachers and staff,” said Shumana Chowdhury, Access Academy student from Bangladesh.  “AUW with its mission of changing young women's fate in Asia, helps me to broaden my perspective about the world by applying different sorts of educational strategies.  I have learned many valuable lessons about myself and the world here," Ms. Chowdhury added.

“AUW can bring me education to reach the real world which is bright, brilliant and beautiful. AUW is the highway that I have to go straight forward to seek who I am.  Being here, I am frustrated and eager to get [an] education, excited by the different cultures, proud of having great deans and brilliant professors and wonderful instructors who work hard and sacrifice for AUW and the students,” said Sorya Seang, AA student from Cambodia. “Now, I am a different person, I can see two different worlds—from where I used to live and where I am in the present—I am a knowledgeable person,” Ms. Seang added.

This inaugural class of remarkable young women will begin their undergraduate studies alongside 35 new students at the Asian University for Women this following August.

“These students are well-prepared for AUW’s rigorous liberal arts curriculum, which trains young leaders by emphasizing experiential learning and problem-solving real world issues,” said Dr. Hoon Eng Khoo, Provost and Acting Vice Chancellor.  “It would be an understatement to say that we are proud of them.  We feel incredibly privileged to have accompanied them on their journey and invite you to share this milestone with them.  AUW is also very grateful to their dedicated teachers who have helped make our students’ remarkable progress possible,” Dr. Khoo added. 

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Film Screening in Tokyo Funds Ten Scholarships for the Asian University for Women

Strong support from Japanese business for new women's university in Bangladesh

Cambridge, Massachusetts—June 15, 2009— The Asian University for Women (AUW) presented a film screening of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s award-winning documentary “Lifting the Veil” in Tokyo, Japan, last May 28th.  The event was attended by over three hundred guests.

The itinerary for the evening included an introduction to the university by the co-chairs of AUW's Japan Support Committee, Kathy Matsui and Kathy Pike. Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaird-Chinoy then addressed the impact that higher education for women makes in this region. This was followed by a passionate testimonial from Azmina Karim, a student at the university's preparatory program, the Access Academy (AA).

Demonstrating her new English vocabulary, Karim said, "In South Asian countries women find their identity by attaching someone's name with them and they also think women's identity lies on being someone's wife or mother. Unfortunately, I was not different from these women. Before coming here, my world was small … After seeing my teachers, I wanted to work like them and thus I have joined the community service club of AA where I go to teach slum children in Usho school."

AUW is pleased to report that the proceeds from that evening, together with generous contributions from individuals, will support ten one-year scholarships. It is the goal of the university to raise funds to provide twenty-five one-year scholarships by the end of the year.

"We would like to thank our supporters and invite them to visit the AUW website or contact us directly. We are thrilled to welcome new support and participation,” said Kathy M. Pike, PhD, Professor of Psychology & Assistant Dean for Research, Temple University Japan Campus.

"The generosity of our support base in Japan has provided talented young women from across South and Southeast Asia with an unparalleled opportunity to pursue a world-class education and, in turn, gain the skills and resources necessary to become capable, dynamic, and innovative leaders in their communities,” added Kathy Matsui, Managing Director and Chief Japan Strategist; Co-Director of Pan Asian Investment Research, Goldman Sachs (Japan) Ltd.

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Emma Bonino Takes on Higher Education for Asian Women

Vice President of Italian Senate and human rights activist joins the Asian University for Women's Council of Patrons

Chittagong, Bangladesh—May 29, 2009— Emma Bonino, Vice President of the Italian Senate and former member of the European Parliament, reaffirmed her commitment to women’s education by accepting former Chief Advisor of Bangladesh Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed’s invitation to join the Asian University for Women’s Council of Patrons. “Your Excellency,” read her response to Dr. Ahmed’s October 2008 letter, “I am honored to accept and I will try to do my best."

For decades, Bonino has responded swiftly to threats against democracy and human rights violations by traveling to conflict areas and leading humanitarian aid on the ground. She is also known for her commitment to women’s issues and has worked with several female activists to eradicate female genital mutilation in Kenya, the oppression of women in Afghanistan and child prostitution in Cambodia.

Concerning her post at AUW, a new, independent, regional institution of higher learning, Bonino says that she is “proud to be part of this important and innovative project at such an exciting time.” Bonino, who won the “Open Society Prize 2004” and the “Prix Femmes d’Europe 2004” for Italy, is “eager to follow AUW’s first class of students as they graduate from the preparatory program and enter the University proper this August.”

“Tertiary education for women in this region goes a long way in regards to poverty reduction, economic growth and reproductive health,” she explained. “And these are not just any girls – these are high achievers who have identified problems in their communities and will work towards social change,” Ms. Bonino added.

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Asian University for Women Highlights Importance of Women’s Education in Asia

Innovative International Liberal Arts University for Women Announces Event in Hong Kong Featuring AUW Patrons Anson Chan and Cherie Blair

Hong Kong—April 16, 2009—The Asian University for Women (AUW), South Asia’s first regional, liberal arts institution for women, will host an event in Hong Kong on April 17 to generate awareness for the need of increased tertiary education for women in South and South East Asia.  The event will feature AUW patrons the Honorable Anson Chan Former Chief Secretary, Government of the Hong Kong SAR; Mrs. Cherie Blair, Human Rights Activist, Founder, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women; and, Mr. Jack Meyer, Asian University for Women Support Foundation Chairman, Former President and CEO of Harvard Management Company. 

Today, women remain poorly represented in the work force throughout Asia.  The result is a cycle of generational poverty, as well as a loss of potential economic growth for these nations.  More women are needed in leadership positions in politics and business for this cycle to be broken.  Women’s voices are missing in critical decision making roles, omitting them from decisions affecting family, education, environment and community.  Higher education is imperative to empowering girls and women to become active members in their societies and engender change in their communities. 

"Equality of the sexes depends on equal opportunities of which the most important is access to education.  Education liberates the body, soul and mind,” said Mrs. Anson Chan, Former Chief Secretary, Government of the Hong Kong SAR.  “It is the key to alleviating poverty, ignorance and exploitation.  Higher education enables every woman to realize her full potential and to play a meaningful role in society.  No community can afford to ignore this precious resource," she added.

Increasing women’s participation in business and politics renders societies more productive—increasing GDP along with its overall welfare.  According to a 2008 Global Economics Paper by The Goldman Sachs Group, a one percentage point increase in female education raises the average level of GDP by 0.37 percentage points, and raises annual GDP growth rates by 0.2 percentage points on average (Lawson, March 4, 2008, Women Hold Up Half the Sky, Global Economics Paper Number 164, The Goldman Sachs Group).  Such research makes a clear case for the value of higher education, not only for improving the lives of women but for the growth of entire societies.  Excluding women from the workforce is the equivalent of dividing it in half—by educating women and reducing the gender gap in employment, nations could vastly improve their productivity. 

"Education is now more important than ever –for the strength of our economies and the health of our societies.  In the new global economy, the most important raw material is not oil or gold or any other precious commodity.   It is human capital – the potential, talents, skills and experience of a country’s citizens,” said Mrs. Cherie Blair, Founder, The Cherie Blair Foundation, and AUW Patron.  “The nations which can look to the future with confidence are those which best harness the knowledge and experience of all their people.  That is why the education of girls is so vital,” she added. 

The Asian University for Women seeks to address these challenges by providing an innovative and rigorous curriculum that encompasses the liberal arts, sciences, and professional training to women of high ability and potential, based solely on merit.  AUW seeks to inspire thoughtful and ethical leaders.

"The focus of AUW is on critical reasoning, problem solving, communication and leadership.  We want graduates who can make a difference – who will return to their communities, in both the private and public sectors and initiate change,” said Mr. Jack Meyer, Chairman, Asian University for Women Support Foundation.  “When AUW students graduate they will understand tolerance and have the ability to envision and engender change on a broad scale—and they will have the confidence and skills to bring about that change.  We are not trying to give an average education to the masses—at AUW we are giving an outstanding education to a few women who will serve as role models for like-minded individuals in their communities.”       

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Cherie Booth Blair, QC and the Asian University for Women Congratulate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Cherie Booth Blair Joins International Liberal Arts University, Asian University for Women, as Patron

Chittagong, Bangladesh—March 18, 2009— Cherie Booth Blair, QC, prominent international human rights advocate, lawyer and wife of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has written to congratulate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her  support for the Asian University for Women.

"I understand the initiative to establish the Asian University for Women”, Mrs. Blair wrote, “began under your earlier tenure as Prime Minister, and I am delighted by the enormous support that successive governments in Bangladesh have extended to this most worthwhile project.”

Mrs. Blair, who recently founded the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, has joined the Council of Patrons for the Asian University for Women.  The Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina serves as the University’s Chief Patron.  In her message to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Mrs. Blair went on:  I passionately believe that women's empowerment through education and expanded economic and civic opportunities are the key to the transformation of our societies.  The Asian University for Women is clearly a much needed effort in this direction.  It will be my pleasure to join you as a Patron of this University and help in every way I can."

Mrs. Blair indicated to the Prime Minister that she plans to visit the University later this year.  In the meantime, Mrs. Blair has become actively involved in rallying international support for the Asian University for Women.  On April 17 she will join the Asian University for Women Chairman Mr. Jack Meyer and AUW Patron Madame Ansan Chan, former Administrator of Hong Kong, in Hong Kong to urge philanthropists to support the creation of AUW in an expression of Pan-Asian solidarity.  Hong Kong’s philanthropists have been among AUW's most generous benefactors, including generous support of AUW’s permanent campus in Chittagong, now under development.   

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Asian University for Women Hires Pioneering Faculty

Innovative International Liberal Arts University Embodies Spirit of International Women’s Day 

Cambridge, Ma. and Chittagong, Bangladesh—March 9, 2009—The Asian University for Women (AUW), South Asia’s first regional, liberal arts institution, today announced the appointment of its inaugural faculty.  With diverse backgrounds, graduate and postgraduate degrees from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, their collective fields comprise the innovative liberal arts curriculum that is to be taught at AUW.  With a predominantly female faculty—still rare in higher education in South Asia, especially in the sciences and quantitative reasoning—the faculty embodies the spirit of International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8, 2009.   

"We are delighted to welcome these scholars to AUW," said Dr. Michelle Zjhra, the University's Dean of Undergraduate Studies. "We chose them especially for their unique experiences and achievements in the region, with women, or in a relevant and specific field of study such as environmental science, and conflict and coexistence.   A few have worked in the field of finance and applied research. They are all ready to ensure that our students become effective learners and knowledgeable and effective leaders who are engaged with their communities and the world."

AUW's inaugural faculty will begin their new lives in Bangladesh this July, alongside the first class of undergraduate students.  Many of these undergraduates will have graduated from AUW's pre-collegiate bridge program, the Access Academy, which recruits women of high ability largely from underserved, poor, refugee and minority communities. Starting in 2009, Access Academy students will also be the first in their families to attend university.

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Admissions Open at New Asian University for Women

University in Chittagong is now accepting applications for students wishing to initiate social change and leadership

Chittagong, Bangladesh—The Asian University for Women (AUW), an independent institution of higher learning, is seeking applicants for entry into the second batch of its University preparatory program, as well as the inaugural batch of the Asian University for Women. Affiliated with renowned educational institutions worldwide, like Aalborg University, Denmark; and Stanford University, USA; the University aspires to provide similar world class education to talented young Asian women--in the heart of the region--Bangladesh.

AUW’s mission is to be a catalyst for positive change in the developing world, creating a new generation of inspiring female role models by giving them the education, preparation and opportunities they need to become leaders in their communities and around the world.

The University started its journey in March 2008 with the first Access Academy batch of 129 talented young females from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, who joined the 12-month pre-university residential preparatory program. The goal of the Academy is to provide students with a foundation in English, mathematics, quantitative reasoning and computer skills; as well as extra-curricular activities, counseling, study tours and internships.  The students are housed in a secure, all-female environment, which includes their own IT lab, library and internet access -- and are preparing themselves for the internationally recognized undergraduate program at the University.

“Many young women across Asia possess exceptional talent, potential and intellect, but may not wish to travel far from home to receive the education they need to fulfill their potential,” said Dr. Khoo, Acting Vice Chancellor, Asian University for Women. “We have such an outstanding group here already, from diverse cultural, religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Our goal is to help them to become skilled professionals, inspiring leaders and advocates for tolerance, understanding and social justice.”

Beginning with this new batch, the Academy will admit only students whose parents have not received a University level education for admission into its preparatory program. Students who do not fit this criteria are encouraged to apply directly to the Undergraduate Program at AUW. The University will provide a rigorous academic curriculum anchored in the liberal arts and sciences, providing the students with a solid intellectual foundation in the humanities/arts, social sciences, and natural sciences. Upon completing their Undergraduate Program, successful students will be able to receive a degree in the following majors: Literature & Women’s Studies, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Biological Science and Computer Sciences.

The University welcomes application forms from interesting and talented candidates via the website at before February 15th. For more information on AUW, please contact its Chittagong-based office at: 20/A, M. M. Ali Road.

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The Asian University for Women Forms Relationship with Stanford University; Partners with Aalborg University in International Education Initiatives

Renowned International Institutions to Support New Women’s University Initiative in South Asia

Chittagong, Bangladesh—October 18, 2008—The Asian University for Women (AUW), based in Chittagong, Bangladesh, today announced two new relationships with Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA; and, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.  As the Asian University for Women prepares to open its doors to its inaugural undergraduate class in July 2009, both relationships will be valuable in the University’s initial development. 

As we continue to develop AUW’s curriculum and faculty, we are honored to be working with forward-looking, international universities such as Stanford and Aalborg,” said Dr. Hoon Eng Khoo, Provost and Acting Vice Chancellor at the Asian University for Women. “The exchange of knowledge and cultural experiences that our collective student body will experience exemplifies the heart and soul of AUW’s mission—to provide a world-class education and global professional development opportunities to talented young women of South and South East Asia, regardless of their backgrounds.” 

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Stanford University

Recognized world-wide as a leading educational institution, Stanford University has offered to send two of their brightest post doctoral fellows to serve as part of the founding faculty for the year 2009-2010.

“The mission of the Asian University for Women is extraordinary.  By providing access to quality higher education for women whose promise might otherwise go unrealized, the University is transforming the lives of these women and their families,” said John Etchemendy, Provost at Stanford University.  “By empowering women to become leaders in society, AUW is creating an important force for positive change in the world.  Stanford University is dedicated to building a strong new program in South Asian Studies, and is looking forward to contributing to the living and learning community that the Asian University for Women is developing in Chittagong.” 

The relationship between Stanford University and the Asian University for Women highlights Stanford’s dedication to building a strong program in South Asia through research on contemporary economics and politics, as well as research on the region’s diverse cultures and history.  Stanford students will be prepared for careers working side-by-side with their peers from around the world—including those from the Asian University for Women. 

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Aalborg University

Internationally renowned for “the Aalborg Model of Problem Based Learning (PBL),” Aalborg University in Denmark is a leading institution with an inter-disciplinary, problem-oriented approach to innovative research and education. The University has entered into an agreement with the Asian University for Women to collaborate on establishing a graduate program in Information & Communication Technology.

As part of the initiative, Aalborg University will provide AUW with its own faculty members until a full Computer Science faculty has been recruited.  Aalborg University is developing a further initiative to recruit South and South East Asian students to complete their doctoral degrees at Aalborg, before returning to Bangladesh to teach at the Asian University for Women.

“Information technology is the key to enabling global communications and the sharing of information and knowledge—important tools in the development of an international university,” said Lone Dirckinch-Holmfeld, Professor, PhD. at Aalborg University.  “Women from underserved communities are often uneducated in the advances of global information technology, and are unaware of how they can use these tools to better serve both personal and community development.  Aalborg’s relationship with the Asian University for Women will provide these promising young women with the knowledge and resources they need to educate themselves, their families, and their communities.”

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World Renowned Speakers to Address Women’s Changing   Roles in Economics, Politics, and Leadership at International Symposium

Asian University for Women and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur    Foundation Host Symposium on Women’s Global Challenges

Dhaka, BangladeshOctober 17, 2008—The Asian University for Women (AUW) today opened its international symposium and ceremony, “Overcoming History: Rethinking Rights and Opportunities for Women in Asia” in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Co-Sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the symposium is part of the University's inaugural event that will culminate with a program on October 18, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. at the Bangladesh-China Friendship Center presided over by the Honorable Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Advisor of the Caretaker Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and featuring Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Founder of the Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate.

The Asian University for Women dedicated the symposium to the memory of Dr. Allan Rosenfield, Dean Emeritus of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Dr. Rosenfield, who died last week, was also the Chairman of the Board of BRAC USA, a relentless supporter of BRAC’s efforts in Bangladesh, and a devoted friend of the Asian University for Women.

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The Imperative of Women’s Leadership and Political Involvement

Asian women have faced many hardships: female infanticide due to a traditional preference for boys, unequal access to quality care and nutritious food, less access to education, proprietorship and lives outside the home. Young Asian women today must overcome these disadvantages, discrimination and disempowerment and rise above class and gender.

“The Asian University for Women’s mission was borne from this need and has identified the necessity for its students to be the agents of change their societies need,” said Dr. Hoon Eng Khoo, Provost and Acting Vice Chancellor, Asian University for Women. “With that goal in mind, the University’s emphasis will be on empowering its graduates with leadership and entrepreneurship skills to achieve sustainable development, economic progress and social and political equity.”

Well educated women become informed, flexible thinkers and life-long learners who are able to rise above the multitude of problems facing Asian women today. They become active leaders and participants in cultural and political movements that will transform society and engender the changes they themselves will demand are made. For real progress to be made in women’s rights, however, women must take charge of their own political destinies. Women desire to be-and must demand to be-seen not just as part of a community, but as intellectual equals with equal rights.

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Economic Effects of Discrimination Against Women

The Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific 2007, launched on April 18, 2007 by the United Nations Regional Arms, has found that barriers to employment for women cost the region $42 billion to $47 billion annually. A further $16 billion to $30 billion a year is lost through gender gaps in education. Restricting women's access to work, education and health services also comes at a significant economic cost.

Women with university educations become consumers, entrepreneurs, managers and investors; and contribute to their economies through an increase in their personal income. Increased education means increased economic mobility for women; and a heightened awareness of and understanding of financial markets.

Experts in the fields of women’s rights, politics and economics will address attendees of today’s symposium, including: Zoya Hasan, eminent Indian political scientist and professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University; Madame Lone Dybkjaer, former First Lady of Denmark and former Danish Minister of the Environment; Mehrangir Kar, the Iranian human rights advocate and Human Rights Program Fellow at Harvard University; Hameeda Hossain, Bangladesh based Human Rights Activist; Kathy Matsui, Member of the Board of Directors, Asian University for Women Support Foundation, and Managing Director, Chief Japan Strategist, and Co-Director of Pan Asian Investment Research, Goldman Sachs (Japan) Ltd.; Lauren Moriarty, Former U.S. Ambassador to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooporation (APEC); Jyoti Macwan, General Secretary, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India; Shahida Jaffrey, Vice Chancellor, SBK Women’s University in Pakistan; Vivian Lowery Derryck, Member of the Board of Directors, Asian University for Women Support Foundation; Senior Vice President and Director of Public-Private Partnerships at the Academy for Education Development; Hoon Eng Khoo, Acting Vice Chancellor and Provost, Asian University for Women; and, Dr. Regina Papa, Executive Director, Asian University for Women Access Academy. 

Innovative University for Underprivileged Asian Women Hosting International Symposium on Women’s Rights

Renowned Experts to Address Socioeconomic Challenges of Women in Inaugural Ceremony

Chittagong, Bangladesh—October 7, 2008—The Asian University for Women (AUW) will host an international symposium and ceremony, “Overcoming History:  Rethinking Rights and Opportunities for Women in Asia” October 15-18, 2008, in Chittagong and Dhaka, Bangladesh.  Co-Sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the symposium is part of the University's inaugural event that will culminate with a program on October 18, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. at the Bangladesh-China Friendship Center.  Presided over by the Honorable Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Advisor of the Caretaker Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and featuring Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Founder of the Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate, the event is expected to draw many well regarded experts in the fields of education, women’s development and regional integration.    

“Higher Education can be an escalator not only for personal success, but also for the capacity one needs to transform his or her wider society,” said Dr. Muhammad Yunus.  “The Asian University for Women will provide a much needed avenue for women to empower themselves to become enlightened leaders.  By keeping its doors open to women of all socioeconomic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds, AUW can indeed veritably demonstrate that no class or group in society has a monopoly on talent.” 

The Asian University for Women’s first Provost and Acting Vice Chancellor, Dr. Hoon Eng Khoo, will speak on "Preparing Young Women in Asia to Overcome History."

“The future of our societies will be shaped by the education and skills of today’s youth.  Healthy, productive societies come from increased political and social awareness and involvement,” said Dr. Hoon Eng Khoo, Provost and Acting Vice Chancellor at the Asian University for Women.  “The education of our talented young women, regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds, is a critical piece of this global enterprise. With this in mind, the University will be a regional institution dedicated solely to women’s education and leadership development; combining a competitive liberal arts education with graduate and professional training through global internship opportunities. Empowering our graduates to become leaders by seizing their rights and opportunities in their professions, government, business and academia, will be key to ensuring that the young women in Asia today will overcome their history of oppression and marginalization.”

The symposium will highlight many key issues facing women today, including:

The noted Pakistani documentary filmmaker and journalist Sharmeen Obaid will showcase her work to explore the plight of women and the emergence of women’s groups working to expand their rights in Asian and Middle Eastern countries.  Students of the inaugural class of the AUW Access Academy, a year-long pre-collegiate bridge program, representing India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Bangladesh will also present a cultural performance following the conclusion of the ceremonies. 

The inaugural class of the Access Academy began classes in Chittagong in April 2008, with 130 talented young women from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.  The Access Academy is designed to ensure that women from remote or marginalized communities can complete challenging, university-level work.  Students participate in intensive courses in English, mathematics, and computer skills that will help them overcome any deficiencies in previous education.  Successful completion of coursework at the Academy will lead to admission to the Asian University for Women; other students can be admitted directly into the undergraduate program which begins in September 2009. 

The University is the first of its kind in the region: a private, regional institution of the highest quality, dedicated solely to women’s education and leadership development, international in outlook, but rooted in the contexts of Asia.  AUW seeks to enable its students to become skilled and innovative professionals, service-oriented leaders, and promoters of tolerance and understanding. With an innovative curriculum focusing on critical thinking skills and tools for entrepreneurship, communication, and problem solving, AUW aspires to produce graduates prepared to become leaders both in their fields of study and in shaping their future societies. 

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. July, 2008: The Asian University for Women Support Foundation (AUWSF) just received a $1.4 million grant from The Goldman Sachs Foundation to fund the continued operation of the Asian University for Women’s Access Academy in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The Access Academy is the University’s flagship program designed to prepare talented young women from all across Asia, and especially from socially and economically marginalized settings, for entrance into the University. The students enrolled in the Academy receive intensive training in English, mathematics and computer skills prior to the beginning of their university education. All students attending the Access Academy do so on full academic scholarship, providing for all their needs, including tuition, room and board, and health care.

The latest grant from the Goldman Sachs Foundation brings the support from the Foundation to a total of $2.8 million, following a $1.4 million grant made in 2006. AUW has also received support from a range of other contributors including the Open Society Institute, USAID, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Citigroup Foundation, Chevron Foundation, Nike Foundation, Morgan Stanley Group, and a host of individual contributors from the U.S., Japan, Hong Kong and Bangladesh.

Scheduled to open its doors to students in September 2009, AUW's undergraduate program will be a vibrant residential learning community where highly talented women from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds will develop their intellectual and personal potential. The University will offer a five-year integrated program leading to a combined Bachelor's and Master's degree. One of the fundamental goals of the Asian University for Women is to cultivate successive generations of women leaders who possess the skills and resources to address the challenges of social and economic advancement of the region.