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Asia Foundation and Lotus Circle Honor Japan’s Akie Abe and Myanmar’s Colorful Girls

Inaugural Lotus Leadership Awards Dinner in San Francisco highlights women’s empowerment in Asia

San Francisco, February 14, 2018 — The Asia Foundation will recognize Akie Abe for her commitment to advancing women’s empowerment in Japan and Asia, notably in Myanmar at the inaugural Lotus Leadership Awards Dinner in San Francisco on February 21. Colorful Girls will also receive a Lotus Leadership Award for empowering adolescent girls in Myanmar. Leaders in the philanthropic, business, and diplomatic communities are expected to attend the dinner with Mina Kim, KQED Forum Friday host and PM anchor serving as the emcee. Proceeds from the event will help seed and sustain The Asia Foundation’s innovative programs for women and girls across Asia and the Pacific. The dinner will also serve as the Bay Area launch of the Lotus Circle, a vibrant community of philanthropists that supports The Asia Foundation in its work across 18 countries to strengthen women and girls’ rights and security, political participation, and economic opportunities.

Colorful Girls

In Japan, women’s participation in public life is visibly increasing along with a deep commitment to girls’ empowerment and education across Asia. For this reason, the Lotus Leadership Award will honor Akie Abe, the chairperson of the Foundation for Social Contribution in Japan and a tireless advocate for education, women’s empowerment, and international exchanges, especially in Myanmar. In Japan, she established “UZU Workshop,” a leadership and learning community that organizes panel discussions and other programs to support and advocate for women. She is the spouse of Shinzo Abe, the current prime minister of Japan.

Akie Abe

“I hope that the Lotus Circle and other philanthropic donors promoting women’s empowerment will continue to persistently support and stand by women and girls in Asia in support of their rights and opportunities,” said Akie Abe.

“In Asia, women and girls have been gaining power and voice in political spheres as well in the work place, however enormous challenges to achieving gender equality remain,” said Jane Sloane, The Asia Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment program director. “Our unique funding model allows philanthropists involved in the Lotus Circle to empower women and girls by providing the necessary resources to change their lives and their broader communities.”

As Myanmar emerges from decades of military rule, challenges surrounding urbanization, governance, and gender-based discrimination are becoming more evident. In this critical transition, a number of organizations are stepping up to ensure that women and girls are heard, including Colorful Girls, a grassroots organization leading a movement to empower adolescent girls and young women with the confidence and leadership skills to prevent violence and advocate for their rights. Powerful young women from Colorful Girls are overcoming enormous obstacles and becoming leaders to transform their own lives and their communities. For example, one teenager involved with Colorful Girls launched a successful campaign to fight harassment of women on public buses in Yangon.

The Asia Foundation is grateful to Presenting Sponsor MUFG Union Bank. Boeing International and Connell Brothers are Benefactor Sponsors. AIG, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Burma Inc., Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., and Squire Patton Boggs are Friend Sponsors. Special thanks to Tiffany & Co.

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Amy Ovalle, Vice President, Global Communications
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