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AUW Chancellor Cherie Blair and Alumna Saren Keang Featured at Asia Society Texas Center Women’s Leadership Series
Houston, Texas
29, Mar, 2017

March 29, 2017, Houston, Texas — Asia Society Texas Center continued its Women’s Leadership Series with a program entitled, “Women’s Education and Empowerment.” Chancellor of Asian University for Women (AUW), Mrs. Cherie Blair, gave the keynote address before joining a panel with Dr. Dina Alsowayel, Associate Director of Women’s Studies at the University of Houston in Texas; Dr. Zahra Jamal, Associate Director at Rice University’s Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance; and Saren Keang, a Cambodian 2014 graduate of AUW who is currently pursing graduate studies at Brandeis University in Boston. The panel was moderated by Andrea White, a writer for the Houston Chronicle.

AUW Chancellor Cherie Blair gave the keynote address at Asia Society Texas Center’s Women’s Leadership Series event in March 2017.

Mrs. Blair started the conversation by presenting shocking statistics about the status of women’s education worldwide. She concluded, “Women and girls – especially women and girls from the Global South – bear the brunt of gender inequality through suppression of educational opportunities and economic participation, lower political representation, and debilitating lack of control over their own health and safety. This all begins at school and at home, where too many girls are told that their education is less important than the education of their brothers.”

Mrs. Blair further argued that Asia’s future prosperity and peace depends on the education of women, and she highlighted AUW as a model for functional and productive institutions in Asia. “AUW demonstrates that, in the domain of global development, short-term financial interventions are not enough. Societal transformation requires long-term, systemic solutions that address human capital needs. Establishing a liberal arts university dedicated to women and their leadership training in Asia sends a clear message on the importance of women’s value as members of society. Although the world will not change overnight, investing in motivated women who yearn to strengthen their communities and lead their countries toward progress will make widespread, sustainable change possible,” she said.

Saren (left) gave a moving account of her journey to higher education.

After Mrs. Blair’s keynote address, the other panelists joined her on stage to continue the conversation. Saren gave a moving account of how education changed her life. “My mother is an orphan who quit school in grade three to work full-time. My father completed grade six but stopped because of Cambodia’s civil war and genocide. My parents could not afford to send my siblings and me to college, and my community had very low expectations of women. Thankfully, I got a full scholarship to study at AUW. My English, confidence, leadership, and critical thinking skills improved at AUW. I learned to believe that my opinions matter and that I can do anything. Now I am pursuing graduate studies at Brandeis on a full scholarship. In the future, I want to be Director of UN Women and promote women’s education and empowerment globally.”

 

From left: Saren Keang, Dr. Zahra Jamal, Dr. Dina Alsowayel, Mrs. Cherie Blair, and Andrea White.