Afghanistan First Lady Rula Ghani and Carnegie Corporation of New York to Receive Asia Foundation Lotus Leadership Awards

Photo: Whitney Legge

Photo: Whitney Legge

San Francisco, April 11, 2016 — Afghan women are increasingly aware of their rights and hold political positions, but they are still limited by unemployment and illiteracy. The Asia Foundation and the Lotus Circle, a community of individuals, foundations, and corporations who raise capital to rapidly respond to challenges and opportunities facing women in Asia, today announced that First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mrs. Rula Ghani will be honored at the Sixth Annual Lotus Leadership Awards Gala in New York City on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 for her efforts to improve the quality of life for women in Afghanistan.

The evening gala is a platform for advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls, and proceeds support innovative women’s empowerment projects at The Asia Foundation. Hosted by former ABC 20/20 correspondent and author Lynn Sherr, the evening will include special congratulations by former United States First Lady Laura Bush. Carnegie Corporation of New York will also be honored. President Vartan Gregorian will accept a Lotus Leadership Award on behalf of the organization for its partnership with The Asia Foundation to improve access to university and advanced level education to Afghan women.

Lotus Leadership Awards are presented to outstanding individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the well-being of women and girls in Asia. The Asia Foundation is at the forefront of empowering women across Asia. In Afghanistan, this entails a focus on girls’ and women’s education as the key to strengthening women’s participation in social, political, and economic life.

First Lady Rula Ghani was selected as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2015. She has vowed to improve living standards for Afghan women and initiated a national conversation about violence against women. Dedicated to fostering an environment in which all citizens can achieve their potential and take part in the country’s development, she is active with Aschiana, a local organization that helps educate street children.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was established in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In 2013, Mr. Gregorian announced the Carnegie Corporation Scholarships for Afghan Women, a generous $1 million grant to The Asia Foundation that has enabled Afghan women to enroll in undergraduate degree programs and ten women university professors to enroll in advanced degree programs. Said Mr. Gregorian: “Not only do women represent almost half their country’s population, their aspirations embody the great potential of Afghanistan’s future.”

On the ground, Lotus Circle funds support innovative interventions that have a lasting impact on women and girls. In India, where violence against women is a source of national outrage, Lotus Circle funds were used to support SafetiPin, a mobile app which allows users to conduct “safety audits” in their cities and shine a virtual spotlight on unsafe areas for women. In Bangladesh, Lotus Circle funds are supporting women entrepreneurs to establish and grow their businesses by developing e-commerce websites that increase their access to information, innovative technologies, and external markets. And in Vietnam, Lotus Circle funding has allowed more than 200 girls in the Mekong Delta region to stay in school and reach their full potential.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our programs address critical issues affecting Asia in the 21st century—governance and law, economic development, women’s empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation. Our Women’s Empowerment Program develops women’s leadership, increases women’s rights and security, and creates new political and economic opportunities for women across the Asia-Pacific region.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

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Related locations: San Francisco
Related programs: Empower Women, Lotus Circle

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