University | News
Asian University for Women Hosts Eighth Annual Fundraising Event
Tokyo, Japan
16, Mar, 2017

Tokyo, Japan, March 16, 2017, Asian University for Women’s Japan Support Committee hosted its eighth annual fundraising event on March 16, 2017 at the Tokyo American Club. More than 260 guests listened to captivating speeches by the world’s fastest female racecar driver, Keiko Ihara, and AUW Vice-Chancellor Professor Nirmala Rao. The event raised ¥33 million in support of AUW.

In addition to the fundraising event, the AUW Japan Support Committee arranged for Professor Rao to meet with corporate executives in Tokyo to increase private sector support of the University. Professor Rao reports that the trip was a fruitful opportunity to grow AUW’s network of supporters and to build upon the great work of the AUW Japan Support Committee, which is led by Kathy Matsui, Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs Japan; Catherine Watters-Sasanuma, formerly of Washington State Health Department; and Miwa Seki, an entrepreneur

AUW is unique and a uniquely collective effort, unlike universities that have a single sponsor. The majority of students are on full scholarships and the University is currently entirely funded by donations. We are able to provide young women with this kind of education and training only because of our excellent international network of supporters. Many of those supporters are multinational corporations who recognize the value of investing in the future talent of the region. Thirteen percent of our funding comes from Japan. The First Lady of Japan herself visited our campus some years ago, and commended the role that women leaders can play in ensuring progress continues its forward march in the region,” Professor Rao said.

Expressing her gratitude for the Japan Support Committee, Professor Rao said, “AUW is grateful to the Japan Support Committee for its long-term support. As one of AUW’s most active support groups, it has worked tirelessly to promote awareness and sponsorship of AUW. It remains a model for the University’s other support groups in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UK.”

Above: Asian University for Women’s Japan Support Committee at its eighth annual fundraising event in Tokyo.


Keiko Ihara shared the experience of being a woman in a male-dominated sport. She began her career as a fashion model for race circuits, but she quickly decided to become a racecar driver instead. Now she is one of the few Japanese women nationals to race internationally at an elite level. In 2014, she became the first woman to take the podium at the FIA World Endurance Championship. Ms. Ihara remains a vocal advocate for women’s participation in male-dominated fields.


AUW Vice-Chancellor Professor Nirmala Rao raised awareness of Pathways for Promise, AUW’s initiative to increase access to higher education among women from marginalized communities in Asia.