University | News
First Lady of Japan and AUW Chancellor Convene AUW Supporters in New York
New York, New York
20, Sep, 2017

New York, New York—September 20, 2017—In anticipation of the 10th year of its founding, Asian University for Women (AUW) hosted a discussion in New York to celebrate and reflect upon the University’s first decade of operations. To strengthen AUW’s outreach to potential new supporters, the University announced plans to launch a New York Support Group.

In attendance of the event celebrating AUW were, among others, AUW Patron and First Lady of Japan, Mrs. Akie Abe; noted human rights lawyer and AUW Chancellor, Mrs. Cherie Blair; and AUW alumnae Masooma Maqsoodi from Afghanistan, Jampa Latso from Tibet, and Vylyny Chat from Cambodia.

Fulbright Fellow and M.A. candidate in International Development Policy at the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, Ms. Maqsoodi (AUW Class of 2015), spoke of the obstacles she faced as an Afghan refugee in Iran, where a ban on higher eduacation for refugees prevented her from pursuing education for nearly a decade.

“Not every woman in Afghanistan is as fortunate as I have been. While there is greater attention to the enrollment of Afghan women in schools, there is still little attention paid to the quality of education available in my country. We need to transform the Afghan education system, especially at the public school level, and this transformation must begin with institutions like AUW which aim to educate Afghan women to become innovative and service-oriented leaders,” she said.

Ms. Latso (AUW Class of 2015), a Manager at Strategy XXI consulting firm in New York City, described the experience of growing up in a rural Tibetan village, and being the first member of her community to earn Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She also discussed the impact AUW has had on her life and goals. “At AUW, I learned to discuss social issues such as gender-based violence which are considered taboo in my community. I met incredibly talented women from many Asian countries, about which I knew so little. I listened to their stories, which are heartbreaking at times, and yet incredibly powerful. This deepened my knowledge of women’s experiences across the region, and as a result, my vision for the future became clearer,” she said.

Ms. Chat (Class of 2014), a Ph.D. candidate in Epidemiology at New York University, credited AUW for pushing her to “dream bigger”; “I used to ask myself, ‘what if Cambodians moved to developed countries with better health care?’ but now I ask myself, ‘how can I transform Cambodia to have the health resources that its people deserve?’” she said.

Following the graduates, Mrs. Abe remarked that she was happy to be in the presence of individuals who are committed to overcoming the obstacles that women face to receiving quality education. “Schools that educate women and girls need our support more than ever,” Mrs. Abe said. “It is no secret that going to school as a girl or woman is not safe in many parts of the world. And yet, education for women and girls is the key to opening up new paths in their lives.”

AUW Chancellor Cherie Blair emphasized the University’s aim to graduate women who will be promoters of intercultural understanding and collaboration. “At a time when there is still so much strife in the world on the basis of our inherited identites, Asian University for Women shows that yet another world is possible where young women from different upbringings can come together – first in solidarity with each other, and second in supporting a wider vision of changing their communities with the aid of each other,” she said. Mrs. Blair attributed the University’s success in this regard to its ability to identify and enroll diverse cohorts of remarkable women from the most unsuspecting settings, including garment factory workers, daughters of microfinance borrowers, and Rohingya refugees. Looking forward, Mrs. Blair urged listeners to continue their support of AUW as the University strives to double its student body and complete construction of its permanent campus.


Also in attendance at this event were, among others, Rebecca Barker Vest (Vice President of Corporate Development and Social Responsibility at Nissan North America, Inc.), Annette Dixon (Vice President of the South Asia divison of the World Bank), Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury (Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations), Pascale de la Frégonnière (Executive Director of Cartier Charitable Foundation), Steven J. Friedman (President Emeritus of Pace University), Professor Sheena Iyengar (S.T. Lee Professor of Business at Columbia Business School), and Pramila Patten (Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict at the United Nations). Open Society Foundations was represented by Tamiko Soros and Binaifer Nowrojee.

This event served as a prelude to the launch of an AUW Support Group in New York City. Support Groups are critical to the University’s mission of educating the next generation of women leaders. They raise awareness of AUW; raise funds for the University; and provide counsel to AUW leadership regarding institutional strategy, development, and growth. Anyone interested in joining this emerging Support Group in New York City may contact Ingrid Lustig at