The Asia Foundation and The Lotus Circle Honor Mr. Chong-Moon Lee at Annual Lotus Leadership Awards Luncheon

Award-winning ABC News veteran Lynn Sherr to interview U.S. Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Director of the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

New York, June 6, 2013 — Today, The Asia Foundation and The Lotus Circle, a community of individuals working with The Asia Foundation to empower women and girls in Asia, honor Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mr. Chong-Moon Lee at the third annual Lotus Leadership Awards in New York City. Mr. Lee, a native of Korea, has funded a multi-year, multi-country initiative to combat the trafficking of women and girls in Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, and will receive a Lotus Leadership Award for his contributions to the health and well-being of women and girls in Asia. Luncheon co-chairs Masako Shinn, a trustee of The Asia Foundation; and Ida Liu, managing director and head of North America Asian Clients Group at Citi Private Bank, will make opening remarks. The Asia Foundation, with its unparalleled networks of local Asian government ministries and local Asian NGOs, is a recognized pioneer in the fight against human trafficking and forced labor.

To raise awareness of the crime of human trafficking, Lynn Sherr, who has reported on women’s issues for thirty years as an ABC News correspondent, will interview U.S. Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Director of the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons as part of a panel discussion.

“Mr. Lee is committed to improving the lives of women and girls in Asia,” said Carol Yost, senior director of the Women’s Empowerment Program at The Asia Foundation.

In 2012, Mr. Lee and The Asia Foundation embarked together on an effort to address the issue of Cambodian and Laotian women and girls who annually migrate for income but are lured into terrible situations by false promises of jobs or marriage, and then forced into prostitution or labor exploitation. Pilot projects featuring a public awareness campaign and intensive vocational training scholarships to survivors of human trafficking and those at risk will now be expanded upon, along with a new initiative in Myanmar. Yost continued: “We are grateful to Mr. Lee for his generous support and his partnership to give vulnerable women the chance for a better life. He and the members of The Lotus Circle make it possible for us to reach girls and women in Asia to ‘Tell Her She Can.’”

The Honorable Sapana Pradhan Malla, a lawyer, advocate of Nepal’s Supreme Court, and leading women’s rights activist, will also receive a Lotus Leadership Award for her contributions to the protection of women and girls. Ms. Malla is a former member of the Nepalese Constituent Assembly and helped pass the country’s landmark Human Trafficking Act, now a model for the region.

In Nepal, nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line and the unemployment rate stands at a staggering 46 percent. Labor migration has become an economic necessity for women, but the risk of exploitation and trafficking is high. The Asia Foundation recently completed a research project to understand the decisions and routes South Asian women migrants choose and how to promote more informed and safer migration, “Identifying Gaps and Challenges of Existing Policies and Practices that Influence the Process of Labour Migration in Nepal and Bangladesh.”

Said Yost: “Ms. Malla is a long-time Asia Foundation partner and a catalyst for path-breaking progress on women’s rights and protections. She typifies the Foundation’s history, since the 1950s, of working side by side with local partners to accelerate progress on women’s full participation in social, economic, and political life.”

The Lotus Leadership Awards Luncheon was created by a group of committed philanthropists who share The Asia Foundation’s goal of helping women and girls in Asia reach their full potential and “Tell Her She Can.” Proceeds will be used to fund cutting-edge projects to empower disadvantaged women and girls in the region.

Chevron and The Estee Lauder Companies are premier luncheon sponsors. Vista Equity Partners, Citi Private Bank, and Kirkland and Ellis are also generous sponsors.

Human Trafficking is a priority issue for The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation brings unique strengths to combating human trafficking by directly addressing the governance issues that surround the problem, and by promoting multi-faceted, integrated approaches to respond to it. Asia Foundation programs empower the vulnerable to better protect themselves, both with safe migration and legal rights education, and through interventions to improve their economic opportunities. In Cambodia, the Foundation was instrumental in the adoption of first-ever national minimum standards of care for the treatment of victims, and the establishment of anti-trafficking training for judges, police, and front-line social service providers; local Foundation staff also launched a national prevention and awareness campaign using positive images based on Khmer values to reduce societal acceptance of trafficking and prostitution.

The Asia Foundation and Myanmar

The Asia Foundation announced recently that it has reestablished a resident office in Myanmar. The Foundation has worked with virtually every Asian country that has undergone a democratic transition and is well positioned to make an important contribution.

Read In Asia, The Asia Foundation’s noted blog, for interviews with Nandita Baruah of The Asia Foundation on the urgency to combat human trafficking and forced labor in Nepal and with Lotus Founding Member and Advisor Masako Shinn, who blogs on her passion for The Lotus Circle.

Learn more and follow updates on Facebook, on Twitter at: @Asia_Foundation, and on Instagram at: theasiafoundation

Watch Lotus Circle 2013 and Preventing Human Trafficking in Asia: Chong-Moon Lee and Sapana Pradhan Malla, online films created by The Asia Foundation.

Read more about the Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment program. For media inquiries, please visit the Press Room.

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