"AUW is driven by the institutional belief that talent knows no bounds, be they the gender of an individual or the borders of a country."
Earlier this month Cherie visited Bangladesh as Patron of AUW to co-chair the AUW Conference Imaging another future for Asia - Ideas and Pathways for Change and to attend events at the University in Chittagong. She also had meetings with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the First Lady of Malaysia, the former First Lady of Japan (Mrs Abe), a member of the Japan Advisory Board of AUW and representatives of the World Bank.
In Chittagong she attended an English literature class at the University and over lunch heard students read from their autobiographies as examples of student writing. There then followed a debate on "whether this house considers Gross Domestic Happiness more important than Gross Domestic Product." A very impressive discussion followed. AUW has the only all girl debating team in Bangladesh and has won 18/24 of the debates they have attended.
Everyone then visited the site of the proposed Campus where construction has just started. This event officially marked the start of the project and was attended by the Architect Moshe Safdie and by the President of the University of Western Ontario Amit Chakma, who was born in the area and lived there as a young boy.
The Conference opened on Thursday with addresses on education and in particular the importance of female education by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Foreign Minister (Dipu Moni), the Minister of Education, First Lady of Malaysia and Cherie, who said:
"Unlocking this potential, providing the role models essential to help accelerate social and economic change, is at the heart of the mission of the Asian University for Women. The AUW is a wonderful initiative. Located in Chittagong, the AUW is driven by the institutional belief that talent knows no bounds, be they the gender of an individual or the borders of a country. We are immensely proud - but not surprised - that the talents of AUW's outstanding and committed students are already being recognized."
At the end of the morning Kamal Ahmad, Founder of the AUW, announced that there had been a unanimous vote to appoint Cherie Blair the first Chancellor of AUW.
She also attended a performance by Tamil and Singhalese students attending AUW which showed how they, by discussion, managed to overcome the mutual resentment and concern felt during the fighting in Sri Lanka. After they had become Sri Lankans rather than Tamils and Singhalese they returned home to Sri Lanka as a team last Summer and visited villages of both religions to try and encourage understanding.
They donated books and educational tools and had meetings and took part in workshops with professionals in many fields of conflict resolution.
To view the press release click here
To read about the event on the AUW website click here
To view a bdnews24.com article on the AUW Conference click here
Click here for thoughts on the AUW conference from Professor Patricia Greene, who is a member of the AUW International Council of Advisors (ICA).
Additionally, click here to view a blog post by Marina Mahathir (also an ICA member) commenting on her experience at the AUW last week.