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On International Women’s Day, Global Progress is Worth Celebrating

Posted on March 8, 2021

Written by AUW

On International Women’s Day, Global Progress is Worth Celebrating

Cherie Blair

March 8, 2021 – On the heels of an extraordinarily turbulent year, which needs no reminding, our collective global consciousness is weary. However, I would argue that for young women today, there are more reasons to be hopeful than not.

On International Women’s Day, it’s a great privilege within high-income countries to laud achievements like gender parity on executive teams and more women on boards. In contrast, in many parts of the world there is reason to celebrate when a girl finishes high school.

One progressive university in Chittagong, Bangladesh is shattering glass ceilings in both worlds at once. Not by only by leaping its graduates into meaningful careers, but by doing so in a region where nearly half of girls are married before 18, and less than 40% complete secondary school (UNICEF).

Asian University for Women (AUW) is a liberal arts university that provides high quality education to young women who are least likely to come by the opportunity on their own. Founded in 2008, AUW gives scholarships to women from 18 countries around Asia, with a particular focus on underserved communities. The shopfloors of garment factories, refugee camps, conflict zones, and madrasas are a few places from which they recruit.

By seeking out talent where no one else thought to look, this university is uncovering not only intellectual promise, but innate empathy, righteous indignation, and conviction to create change for the better in their students. And through a curriculum that puts critical thinking, cultural understanding, and problem solving at the forefront, AUW is building a network of women leaders who will usher an era of sustainable human and economic development around the world. They’re already doing so.

AUW graduates have gone on to pursue PhD at renowned institutions like Ewha and Stanford, corporate management careers at companies like H&M, Unilever, and Citibank, and become nonprofit changemakers for international organizations like the UN World Food Programme and the World Bank. All of the graduates return home upon completion of their studies, working to benefit the very communities that need them the most. However, some 25% then go on to graduate studies abroad.

This journey of transformation is the radical promise of AUW, an organization which I am proud to support as Chancellor. To truly change the world, for women and all of humanity, women must lift themselves up. Lift themselves up in homes, communities, board rooms, and political realms.

It starts with opportunity, and for more and more women from across Asia, that opportunity starts at AUW. In celebration of International Women’s Day this year, lets choose to challenge outdated systems that hinder progress, and celebrate the innovative organizations driving solutions.