DHAKA, Bangladesh, August 28 /PRNewswire/ --

- Radisson Hotel, Dhaka, October 17, 2008 9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

The inauguration of a new university chartered to grant degrees to underserved women in Asia will be celebrated at a Symposium in Dhaka, Bangladesh, October 17-18,2008. The Asian University for Women (AUW), based in Chittagong, will offer a five-year program of combined bachelor's and graduate-level professional training across the liberal arts, communications technology, management, public policy, and environmental science.

The initiative is funded by leading global corporations and foundations plus individual donors dedicated to educational opportunities for future women leaders and entrepreneurs from rural, impoverished areas in Asia.

Featured speakers at the October kick-off event include Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Muhammed Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank; the Honorable Dr.Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Advisor, Dr. Kamal Hossain, principal author of the Bangladesh Constitution; Lubna Al-Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates; and Iranian human rights advocate Mehrangiz Kar.

Principal funders of the Asian University for Women include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Goldman Sachs Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and USAID. Kamal Ahmad is President and CEO of the Asian University Support Foundation, the strategic planning and philanthropic arm of AUW.

The Asian University for Women currently underwrites the education of 130 women from six Asian nations as part of their Access Academy, a pre-university preparatory curriculum that will help the young women migrate easily to their first year of College in the Fall of 2009.

**Symposium Schedule follows here: An Invitation to Asian University for Women Inaugural Symposium and Meetings "Overcoming History: Rethinking Rights and Opportunities for Women in Asia" October 15-18, 2008 Bangladesh Co-Sponsored by: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The Asian University for Women (AUW) is being established as a leading institution of higher learning for women from across Asia. Located in Chittagong, Bangladesh and master-planned by the renowned architect Moshe Safdie on a 100+ acre campus site donated by the Government of Bangladesh, the University aims to be the first of its kind: a regional institution of the highest quality, dedicated solely to women's education and leadership development, international in outlook but rooted in the contexts and aspirations of people across Asia, and offering an educational paradigm that combines liberal arts education with graduate professional training. The principal institutional financial supporters of the project to date include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Goldman Sachs Foundation, the Open Society Institute, Citigroup Foundation, and USAID.

The mission of the Asian University for Women is based on the firm belief that education-especially higher education-provides a critical pathway to leadership development, as well as more broadly in achieving sustainable development, economic progress, and social and political equity. AUW will educate promising young women from diverse cultural, religious, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds from across South and South East Asia and the Middle East -- with a particular emphasis on the inclusion of women from poor, rural, and refugee populations. AUW will enable its students to become skilled and innovative professionals, service-oriented leaders, and promoters of tolerance and understanding. www.asian-university.org

Asian University for Women & Asian University for Women Support Foundation Inaugural Symposium and Meetings: October 15-18, 2008, Chittagong and Dhaka Wednesday, October 15 1:35 p.m. Arrival in Chittagong on Thai Airways flight TG309 from Bangkok; Hotel check-in and rest [hotel rooms reserved by AUWSF] 3:30-5:00 p.m. Visit Access Academy; meet students; tour facilities 6:00-7:30 p.m. Dinner and student performance at campus site -- Welcome address by Jack Meyer, Senior Managing Partner, Convexity Capital Management; Chairman, Asian University for Women Support Foundation* -- An update on the current political and governance situation in Bangladesh by Dr. Kamal Hossain, principal author of Bangladesh's constitution, noted jurist, former United Nations Rapporteur for Afghanistan, and legal advisor to AUW* -- A report on Bangladesh's engagement in the world at large by the Hon'ble Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Advisor in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. -- Presentation on campus design by AUW architects -- Guest Speaker: Mr. Syamal Gupta, Chairman, Tata International Thursday, October 16 8:30 a.m-12:00 noon Choice of tours (additional information attached in annex): -- Madrassas -- Textile Industry -- Shipbreaking Yard -- Grameen Bank -- BRAC -- Buddhism and Buddhist Temples in Chittagong 12:00-2:00 pm Lunch with students and teachers at Access Academy 2:00 pm Visit Access Academy Classes 6:00 pm Flight to Dhaka 7:30 pm Check-in at the Radisson Hotel Evening Free Friday, October 17

Symposium on "Overcoming History: Rethinking Rights and Opportunities for Women in Asia" 9:30-10:45 a.m. Opening Plenary Session -- Zoya Hasan, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Member of India's National Commission for Minorities* -- Jo Ritzen, President, Maastricht University; former Minister of Education, the Netherlands -- Navanethem Pillay, South African jurist; Judge at the International Criminal Court; nominated as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 11:00 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Parallel Sessions "Womenomics and Ethics: The Human and Economic Cost of Discrimination against Women" -- Chair: Her Excellency Bea Ten Tusscher, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dhaka Ambassador -- Hameeda Hossain, Human Rights Activist and Founder, Ain o Salish Kendra (Bangladesh)* -- Mehrangiz Kar, Iranian Human Rights Activist; Fellow, Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School* -- Kathy Matsui, Managing Director, Chief Japan Strategist, and Co- Director of Pan Asian Investment Research, Goldman Sachs (Japan) Ltd.* "Breaking Old Molds: Successes in Empowering Women" -- Chair: Her Excellency Barbara Richardson, High Commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh -- Rangita DeSilva, Senior Advisor on International Programs, Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College* -- Shahida Jaffrey, Vice Chancellor, SBK Women's University, Quetta, Baluchistan, Pakistan* -- Reema Nanavaty, Director, Economic and Rural Development, Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), India* 1:00-2:00 p.m. Lunch 2:15-3:45 p.m. Concluding Plenary Session "Inspiring Change: Reflections Women's Leadership" -- Keynote Speaker: Lubna Al-Qasimi, Minister of the Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates 4:30-6:30 p.m. Joint Meeting of the Board of Trustees of AUW and the Board of Directors of AUWSF 7:00-8:00 p.m. Reception hosted by the President of Goldman Sachs Foundation [By special invitation only] 8:00-9:30 Dinner Saturday, October 18 9:00 am-12:00 pm Concluding Ceremony, at the Bangladesh China Friendship Convention Center, to be presided over by the Honorable Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Advisor (Prime Minister) of Bangladesh and Chief Patron of AUW. Dr. Muhammad Yunus will speak as chief guest. Dr.Hooneng Khoo, Provost for AUW, will speak on "Preparing Young Women in Asia to Overcome History."

Web site: http://www.asian-university.org

Patricia Maroni of Asian University For Women, patricia.maroni@asian-university.org ; NOTE TO EDITORS: INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY WITH DR. YUNUS: Saturday, October 18, 2008 and leading donors from the Goldman Sachs Foundation: Kathy Matsui, Goldman Sachs Japan; Stephanie Bell-Rose, Goldman Sachs Foundation. Please contact: patricia.maroni@asian-university.org