Asia Foundation’s Lotus Circle Honors Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist Sheryl WuDunn and Dr. Ranjana Kumari

Fifth Annual Lotus Leadership Awards Gala Hosted by Lynn Sherr

New York City, June 3, 2015 — The Asia Foundation and the Lotus Circle, a community of individuals, foundations and corporations working together to advance the rights and opportunities of women in Asia, tonight honors Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author Sheryl WuDunn as well as prominent women’s rights activist, Ranjana Kumari, at the fifth annual Lotus Leadership Awards in New York City. The Asia Foundation honors both guests for their contributions to the well-being of women and girls in Asia.

Ms. WuDunn, the first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize and the co-author of Half the Sky, about the oppression and trafficking of women and girls, will receive a Lotus Leadership Award for her work to raise awareness about the challenges women face, including sex trafficking and violence against women.

“Ms. WuDunn’s powerful narratives and social movements have galvanized individuals and organizations all over the world based on what she asserts is the moral challenge of the 21st century—gender inequality,” said Carol Yost, senior director of The Asia Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Program. Named one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Shake the World,” Ms. WuDunn, is also an accomplished business executive and has co-authored best-selling books with her husband New York Times Columnist Nicolas Kristof. Their books expose the epidemic of violence against women worldwide and call for immediate actions and solutions. “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” and “A Path Appears”, are groundbreaking multi-platform campaigns that aim to build a global movement.

Said Ms. WuDunn: “We, as journalists, can spread the word about an issue, make it accessible and change people’s attitudes. We all have it in ourselves to make a difference and change lives.”

Dr. Ranjana Kumari, a leader in the women’s rights movement in India, will also receive a Lotus Leadership Award for her efforts to create a humane, equitable and gender just society in India. She is the director of the Centre for Social Research, a non-profit whose landmark efforts have changed police attitudes towards women and addressed domestic violence in India, and now include a push for one woman police officer to be placed in every police station in the country.

Said Ms. Yost: “The Asia Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Program identifies change agents, and Ms. WuDunn and Ms. Kumari have transformed attitudes and communities around the world. We are honored to recognize their achievements with the Lotus Leadership Awards as we continue to Tell Her She Can, our global awareness and philanthropy campaign and message to women and girls.”

During the Lotus Leadership Awards gala, The Asia Foundation will also announce that Lotus Circle Advisor and Asia Foundation President’s Leadership Council Member Meredith Ludlow and her husband Marc Teillon have made a very substantial gift to the Women’s Empowerment Program to fund undergraduate agriculture and information technology scholarships for disadvantaged Vietnamese girls. The gift is made in memory of Ms. Ludlow’s father, who served with the 198th Infantry Brigade of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Ludlow and Teillon have since visited Vietnam and have a passion for educating the next generation of women in specific fields of study that will help shape the country going forward. An opinion-editorial by Ms. Ludlow appeared in The Washington Post.

“The Lotus Leadership Awards is more than an extraordinary event that raises funds for vital projects. It is a global platform to protect and advance women and girls,” said David Arnold, president of The Asia Foundation. “In fact, each year global leaders, advocates and philanthropists convene at the Awards in New York City and inspire others to action.” Mr. Arnold noted that during the 2014 Awards, Asia Foundation Trustee Ambassador Melanne Verveer, appointed by President Obama as the First U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, introduced a special digital appearance by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which she congratulated her friend Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus on his 2014 Lotus Leadership Award. At the 2013 awards, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mr. Chong-Moon Lee announced a multi-year, multi-country initiative with The Asia Foundation to combat the trafficking of women and girls in MyanmarCambodia, and Laos. And, in 2012, The New York Times interviewed Sapana Pradhan Malla on the occasion of her Lotus Leadership Award for her work on Nepal’s Human Trafficking and Transportation Control Act.

The Asia Foundation is a pioneer in women’s social, political and economic empowerment, gender equity and the fights against human trafficking and domestic violence. The Lotus Leadership Awards was created by a group of individuals and organizations who share The Asia Foundation’s goal of helping women and girls in Asia reach their full potential. Proceeds will be used to fund pilot projects to empower women and girls that can be scaled up for large-scale interventions across Asia. Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, The Estée Lauder Companies, and Vista Equity Partners are Golden Benefactors of this year’s Awards. Bravia Capital; EY; General Electric; Kirkland & Ellis; and Morgan Stanley are Benefactors. Citi Private Bank is a Patron.

To learn more, read In Asia, our noted blog, for interviews with Ambassador Melanne Verveer and Lotus Circle Advisor Janet Montag, who has endeavored to support women and girls in Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Engage with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Follow #LotusCircle and #TelHerSheCan for updates.

Related locations: New York
Related programs: Empower Women, Lotus Circle

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Media contacts

Amy Ovalle, Chief Communications Officer
amy.ovalle@asiafoundation.org
415-743-3340

Eelynn Sim, Director, Media & Strategy
eelynn.sim@asiafoundation.org
415-743-3318

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