Creating level playing field for Asian women

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2011, 12:00am


Most people today appreciate the importance of education, but sadly it remains out of reach for millions around the world, especially women.

One person trying to rectify this is Kamal Ahmad, a Harvard-trained lawyer who gave up his profession to set up the Asian University for Women in his native Bangladesh.

It opened in Chittagong in 2008 on a campus comprising four leased apartment buildings. It offers a three-year liberal arts and sciences programme, as well as a two-year graduate course.

The students come from diverse religious, cultural and economic backgrounds across Asia and the Middle East. Of the students, many are the first women in their families to have attended school, let alone university. The independent institution is supported by donations from foundations and individuals. Many students study on scholarships.

Ahmad told members of Hong Kong's Harvard Club recently that education is 'a force of change'.

He noted that two-thirds of the world's 759 million illiterate people are women. Their education, he added, is vital for creating more equal and peaceful societies.

'To educate a man is to educate an individual,' he said. 'To educate a woman is to educate a family.'