Inspirational tales and life-affirming acts of generosity take centre stage at Asian University for Women fundraiser in Hong Kong

HONG KONG, CHINA - Media OutReach - June 22, 2017 - Nearly US$500,000 was raised at a riveting and moving gala dinner in Hong Kong in aid of the Asian University for Women (AUW), an independent, international university in Chittagong, Bangladesh seeking to educate a new generation of female leaders in Asia.

AUW Board Members, special guests and visiting students and graduates gather on stage at the JW Marriott.  

The more than 300 guests who attended "In Honour of Daughters: Empowering Women on a Mission" at the JW Marriott Hong Kong on June 13 were regaled by inspiring tales of overcoming adversity and the hardest fought success from a wide array of speakers including former AUW students, public figures and academics from around the world and human rights lawyer and AUW Chancellor Cherie Blair.

The event, which was the first gala dinner organized by Asian University for Women - Hong Kong Support Foundation, will fund 31 full scholarships for one year, enabling the most promising young women from traditionally marginalized communities around the region to attend the university and go on to lead change.

AUW Support Foundation Hong Kong Chairperson Lynne Anne Davis said: "I am so delighted that our wonderfully generous guests have donated enough money to ensure that the dreams of 31 students wanting to attend this remarkable university can now do so, regardless of their ability to pay. We are so grateful that our network of sponsors, including our event partner Marriott International and platinum sponsors Li & Fung, Goldman Sachs, Mohammadi Group, L'Oreal and Mr. Henry Hamrock, plus a host of other organisations, recognize the immense value of investing in the future talent of the region."

Emceed by Bloomberg TV anchor Rishaad Salamat, the evening of experiences extended to a Live Auction conducted by Christie's Chairman of Asian Art Jonathan Stone, featuring once-in-a lifetime opportunities designed to deepen cultural understanding and broaden horizons. Auction prizes included a private dinner for 10 in London with Cherie Blair and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and a private group luncheon for 10 in Hong Kong with former Chief Secretary The Honourable Anson Chan in Hong Kong SAR's 20th anniversary year.

Cherie Blair, Chancellor of AUW and the first member of her family to go to university, is a firm believer in the transformative power of education. At the gala she talked of how her mother and grandmother, who both left school at the age of 14, made sure that she could achieve her dreams. Mrs. Blair told the audience: "I was told that what Asia needed was a visual representation of why educating girls is important, a place where girls can go, learn from each other and have the chance of an excellent standard of education. That is exactly what AUW offers -- it is a beacon of hope."

Another speaker was Mowmita Basak. Ms. Basak completed her bachelor's degree in Asian Studies at AUW, and is currently pursuing a master's degree at the University of Oxford. She grew up as part of the minority Hindu community in Bangladesh and declared that AUW transformed her life and her career from a small-town girl into an aspiring youth leader. She told the audience: "One single opportunity can transform a life completely."

Sweta Kumari is another former AUW student. She overcame poverty, a terrifying assault and mental illness to graduate from AUW in 2015. She is now on a mission to transform higher education in India. She told the audience: "AUW made possible what was totally, totally impossible."

Guests at the gala also heard the personal tales from other leaders who overcame challenges to lead positive change and make a difference, including Founding Co-chair AUW Japan Support Foundation Kathy Matsui; author, academic and AUW Support Foundation Board Member Sheena Iyengar; former Dutch parliamentarian and academic Kathleen Ferrier; AUW Vice Chancellor Nirmala Rao and Executive Vice Chairman of South China Media Group, Jessica Ng.

About Asian University for Women (AUW)

Recruiting from 15 countries in Asia and the Middle East, Asian University for Women seeks out high-potential young women from communities with few opportunities for advancement, and provides them with the academic, professional, and financial support required to earn their Bachelor's degrees and to take on change-making roles. Throughout their years at AUW, students pursue a rigorous liberal arts and sciences curriculum, internships, and community service and educational exchange opportunities which enable them to broaden their worldviews, develop critical thinking skills, and cultivate their commitments to public service.

Since opening its doors in 2008, AUW has graduated five classes totaling more than 550 women. About 80% of AUW graduates pursue employment in their home countries immediately after graduation while the remaining 20% attend graduate school internationally.  Former AUW students have pursued graduate studies at a range of institutions including Oxford, Stanford, Columbia, Brandeis, and Ewha (South Korea). Graduates have gone into careers with organizations such as Chemists without Borders, Room to Read, Teach for Nepal, Accenture, Chevron Bangladesh, and Democracy International. There are about 600 students currently attending AUW. The vast majority of AUW students are first in their family to attend university, and virtually all receive full financial aid.  

To learn more about Asian University for Women, please visit