San Francisco and Washington, DC, February 14, 2014 — The Asia Foundation’s Lotus Circle, a group of committed individuals, foundations, and corporations working together to advance the rights and opportunities of women in Asia, are pleased to honor Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus as this year’s recipient of the Lotus Leadership Award in recognition of his efforts to eliminate economic inequality and improve the lives of women and girls throughout Bangladesh and around the world. The Lotus Leadership Award is presented each year to outstanding individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the well-being of women and their communities in Asia.
Professor Yunus is world-renowned for his Nobel-prize winning work with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which he founded in 1976 to combat extreme poverty, particularly among women, through micro-loans. Professor Yunus conceived of the Grameen Bank as a credit resource for the poor who lacked collateral and were considered high-risk borrowers to other financial institutions. Today, the Grameen Bank has nearly 8.4 million members in Bangladesh – nearly 97 percent of whom are women – and has lent over $12.5 billion, allowing millions of women and their families the opportunity to lift themselves out of extreme poverty. The Grameen model has been replicated in more than 100 countries around the world and now benefits tens of millions of others.
“Muhammad Yunus is a global trailblazer who saw poor women’s economic potential long before it was recognized that investing in women makes good economic sense and is a highly effective means of lifting millions of poor women and their families out of severe poverty. He is a hero of our time and a close personal friend. I am so pleased that he will receive The Asia Foundation’s Lotus Leadership Award in June to honor his life and his work,” said Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Institute for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University and Asia Foundation trustee.
Professor Yunus will receive the Foundation’s Lotus Leadership Award on June 18, 2014 in New York City at The Asia Foundation’s 4th Annual Lotus Leadership Awards event, which will also celebrate The Asia Foundation’s 60th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of the Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Program. The Women’s Empowerment Program works to expand the rights and opportunities of women in Asia and focuses on women’s political participation, their rights and personal security, and their economic opportunities.