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The Fifth Annual Lotus Leadership Awards Gala

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015
583 Park Avenue, New York City

The Lotus Leadership Awards recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that have made major contributions to the well-being of women and their communities in Asia. This annual event is hosted by The Asia Foundation's Lotus Circle, a group of committed individuals, foundations, and corporations working together with us to advance the rights and opportunities of women across the Asia-Pacific region.

The Fifth Annual Lotus Leadership Awards Gala honored the work of Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and co-author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a New York Times best-seller about the struggles women face, particularly in developing countries. Her most recent book which is also a documentary series on PBS, A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, is a galvanizing narrative on global citizenship and philanthropy. Ms. WuDunn's work has contributed to a global dialogue on women's rights and is helping to transform attitudes and communities around the world.

We also honored Dr. Ranjana Kumari, the Director of the Centre for Social Research, a non-profit organization in India dedicated to empowering women and girls and promoting women's fundamental rights. Dr. Kumari, a long-time Asia Foundation partner, has worked tirelessly to promote women's political participation, combat domestic violence, and advocate for gender equality as a leader on the forefront of the women's movement in India.

The annual Lotus Leadership Awards are made possible by the active support of our Lotus Circle Advisors. For more information about the event, please contact our event consultant, Emily George, at 212-581-1400 or at

Our 2015 Corporate Partners

Golden Benefactor




Past Honorees

Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus

In 2014, The Asia Foundation recognized Professor Muhammad Yunus for his efforts to eliminate economic inequality, which have given millions of women and their families the opportunity to lift themselves out of extreme poverty. 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. 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. The Grameen model has been replicated in more than 100 countries around the world and now benefits tens of millions of others.

Ms. Nani Zulminarni

Ms. Nani Zulminarni is the National Coordinator of PEKKA or "Women-Headed Household Empowerment," an Indonesian NGO that works with widows and other women in conflict-affected areas. Ms. Zulminarni, an Asia Foundation partner, received the 2014 Lotus Leadership Award for helping to change the lives of thousands of women in 17 provinces across Indonesia, enabling them to gain economic opportunities as well as a voice in their households and communities.

The Estée Lauder Companies

The Asia Foundation honored The Estée Lauder Companies in 2014 for their major contributions to women's well-being and support for The Asia Foundation's program to educate poor girls in Vietnam. Through an ongoing partnership with The Asia Foundation since 2010, The Estée Lauder Scholars in Vietnam Program provides scholarships for disadvantaged girls in the Mekong Delta region to continue their secondary school education, giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential. To date, 204 girls have benefitted from this wonderful opportunity.

The Honorable Sapana Pradhan Malla

The Asia Foundation paid tribute to The Honorable Sapana Pradhan Malla, a long-time Foundation partner, with a Lotus Leadership Award in 2013. Ms. Malla is a lawyer, advocate of Nepal's Supreme Court, and a leading women's rights activist. She is also a former member of the Nepalese Constituent Assembly and was the driving force behind the passage of the Human Trafficking Act, which has become a model for the region.

Mr. Chong Moon Lee

In 2013, The Asia Foundation recognized Mr. Chong Moon Lee, a prominent Asian American philanthropist. Mr. Lee funded an anti-trafficking pilot program in Southeast Asia through The Asia Foundation, which implemented a public awareness campaign to educate women and girls about trafficking and provided vocational training scholarships to victims and women and girls who are at risk of trafficking.

The National Geographic Society

Together over the last decade, The Asia Foundation and the National Geographic Society have made large-scale improvements to girls' schools that have impacted the lives of thousands of Afghan girls, their families, and their communities – with benefits that will last for generations to come. In 2012, the Foundation honored this partnership by presenting the National Geographic Society with a Lotus Leadership Award to recognize their commitment to girls' education in Afghanistan.

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi

In 2012, The Asia Foundation honored Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Founder and Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning and an Asia Foundation partner, for her groundbreaking and visionary work empowering communities to bring education and health services to disfranchised Afghan women and girls.

Dr. David Ho

In 2011, the Foundation honored leading AIDS researcher Dr. David D. Ho with the first annual Lotus Leadership Award. Dr. Ho revolutionized the world's understanding of HIV/AIDS; his groundbreaking research and advocacy catalyzed landmark treatment and prevention programs in China, and has dramatically improved the health and well-being of Chinese women and children.

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Learn more about The Lotus Circle and our Women’s Empowerment Program. Join us with a tax-deductible contribution.

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