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Cherie Blair Named Chancellor of Asian University for Women

Dhaka, Bangladesh, 25 January 2011

Cherie Blair recognised for international advocacy of women’s education.

The Asian University for Women (AUW) is pleased to announce the appointment of Cherie Blair, a leading international lawyer and human rights advocate and the wife of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as the first Chancellor of the three-year old University.

Kamal Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer of AUW, made the announcement during the opening proceedings of the three-day international symposium entitled “Imagining Another Future for Asia: Ideas and Pathways for Change” in Dhaka, Bangladesh from January 20-22, 2011.

“Cherie Blair’s staunch support for women’s rights throughout the world presents her as an ideal candidate for this position,” said Kamal Ahmad. “Her leadership at the Asian University for Women will ensure that this institution will continue to thrive, and she will serve as a role model for all the girls that pass through our halls.”

As Chancellor of the University, Mrs. Blair will serve as the titular head of the institution and is expected to play a significant role as an international advocate for the university and women’s education, in addition to officiating in commencement proceedings. Unanimously elected by the University’s International Support Committee, co-chaired by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Lone Dybkjaer, a Member of Parliament and the former Minister of Environment in Denmark, Mrs. Blair has been officially recognized as the face of the University for years to come. Other members of the Support Committee include Koichiro Matsuura, former Director-General, UNESCO; Mamphela Ramphele, former Managing Director of the World Bank; George Soros, noted hedge fund manager and philanthropist; Donald Johnston, former Secretary-General of Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and former Attorney-General, Government of Canada; Madame Kang Kum-Sil, former Minister of Justice in the Republic of Korea; Rasha Al-Sabah, Under Secretary for Higher Education, Kuwait; Jack Meyer, prominent hedge fund manager and former President of the Harvard School Management Company; Sang Chung, former Prime Minister of South Korea-designate and former President of Ewha Woman’s University in South Korea.

AUW’s unique charter ratified under an Act of the Parliament makes it wholly institutionally autonomous and academically independent. The charter provides that the Chancellor is elected independently (as opposed to being designated as an ex-officio function).

Since the University’s founding in 2008, Mrs. Blair has been actively involved in the development of AUW and has campaigned globally on behalf of the University in places such as Qatar, Hong Kong, and Kuwait. As the appointed Chancellor, she will continue to utilize her time and energy to raise awareness about AUW. Prior to her involvement with AUW, Mrs. Blair was already heavily involved with Bangladesh in her capacity as a legal advocate for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her house arrest.

Prime Minister Hasina warmly welcomed the appointment. “We hope that she will decide to come back to Bangladesh often in her role as Chancellor,” she said.

In January 2010, Mrs. Blair conferred fellowships to ten outstanding students at AUW that had demonstrated superior academic ability and outstanding leadership skills. The fellowships were awarded to students who exhibit outstanding leadership abilities.

“I fight, personally and professionally, for women’s equality because I passionately believe it is a fundamental matter of principle and justice,” said Mrs. Blair. “It is clear that AUW’s trail-blazing graduates will provide young women across the region with much-needed examples of leadership, raising ambitions to help unlock more potential.”