Insights and Analysis

In Photos: Lotus Circle Gathers Ahead of Today’s Lotus Leadership Awards

May 11, 2016

The Asia Foundation and the Lotus Circle gathered yesterday in New York at the home of Janet and Tom Montag for a luncheon to honor the First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Rula Ghani. The reception was held the afternoon prior to the sixth annual Lotus Leadership Awards today, during which Ghani, selected as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2015, was recognized for her efforts to improve living standards for Afghan women.


Ghani said to the guests attending the luncheon: “I want to thank all of you for caring about Afghanistan.” Muslim clerics and scholars (ulema) enjoy high levels of trust in Afghanistan, and highlighted a local Asia Foundation-supported project that has allowed for 2,880 Afghans in 18 provinces to be trained on women’s rights in Islam and the Law on Elimination of Violence against Women, including the creation of a call center, promoted through radio PSAs, that offered counseling and referrals to more than 1,000 callers a month – 70 percent, she noted, are men.


Ghani sits with luncheon host Janet Montag (right) who is a Lotus Advisor and philanthropist, and co-chairs with Mr. Montag of this year’s gala. “People are feeling more courageous and it’s helping in pursuing their dreams,” she said.


Jena Karim, The Asia Foundation’s deputy country representative for programs in Afghanistan, said that as a woman who works in Afghanistan, she is profoundly inspired by Ghani for “championing women’s rights and bringing in her brand of pragmatic empathy.”


Asia Foundation Trustee Emerita and Lotus Circle Advisor Missie Rennie listens as First Lady Rula Ghani speaks to guests.

The evening gala is now a platform for advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls and attended by global leaders. Proceeds from the evening will support innovative women’s empowerment projects at The Asia Foundation. The Asia Foundation is grateful to Premier Sponsor Bank of America Merrill Lynch. MasterCard and Vista Equity Partners are Golden Benefactors. Bravia Capital; Carnegie Corporation of New York; EY; Kirkland & Ellis; and Morgan Stanley are Benefactors. Special thanks to The Estee Lauder Companies. Read more about the Lotus Circle, or watch the video below. 

Related locations: New York
Related programs: Lotus Circle, Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality


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