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Akie Abe, Japan's First Lady, Joins AUW as Patron

Chittagong, Bangladesh, February 19, 2013: Akie Abe, whose husband, Shinzo Abe, has been re-elected as the Japanese Prime Minister, has joined the Asian University for Women (AUW) as a Patron.

The Asian University for Women, based in Chittagong, Bangladesh, is an international university exclusively dedicated to the education and leadership development of women from across Asia and the Middle East. The University offers a one-year preparatory program in English language, mathematics, computers and critical learning skills, as well as a four-year undergraduate program in the liberal arts and sciences. Taught by an international faculty, AUW students currently come from 12 countries.

Mrs. Abe spoke at a conference sponsored by AUW on "Imagining Another Future for Asia" in January 2011 and became an avid supporter of the University's initiative. At the conference, Mrs. Abe decried the necessity of further progress on women's issues in many areas in Japan, noting that as of 2008 only 49% of Japanese women were a part of the formal workforce. She noted: "Empowered women help to improve the prospects of the next generations. And once women have received the education, especially higher education that shapes leaders, then they will be well placed to assume equal roles with men. The active involvement of women across all areas -- from economics to society to politics to academia -- is crucial to achieving our shared goals of peace and prosperity."

Akie Abe is a highly unusual figure in the tradition of Japanese First Ladies. She owns a small organic rice farm in attestation to her devotion to promoting healthier foods and lifestyles. She is a marathon runner. For years she has been involved in raising funds to build schools in Myanmar. She has made 9 visits to Myanmar and focused on that country in writing her master's thesis.

AUW's Council of Patrons is chaired by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In addition to Mrs. Akie Abe, the Council of Patrons includes Lone Dybkjaer (Former Minister of Environment in Denmark), Irina Bokova (Director-General of UNESCO), Emma Bonino (Vice President of Italian Senate), Anson Chan (Former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong), and Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor (First Lady of Malaysia).

Read on AUW website