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CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh: The Hon. Minister of State Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury opened a three-week long Leadership Institute at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong. The Leadership Institute is a part of the programme announced by the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this year under a global initiative entitled "Women in Public Service Program." The Leadership Institute is being conducted by internationally renowned expert Dr. Rangita de Silva, who now heads the Global Women's Leadersip Initiative at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. Dr. De Silva is of Sri Lankan origin. She did her graduate work at Harvard Law School and has held senior appointments at Wellesley College before heading up this new initiative.

The speakers brought attention to the significance of hosting the prestigious program at AUW, as an international and liberal arts women’s university. They called upon AUW students’ leadership capabilities and strong potential to participate in public service. Nearly 45 participants from eight countries—all students at the Asian University for Women are attending this intense training programme. The programme at AUW follows a similar earlier programme conducted by Dr. Rangita de Silva at the Wellesley College in the US.

In her remarks at the opening session, the State Minister for Women's Affairs who is also a member of AUW's Bangladesh Board of Advisors noted that it is crucial to promote women’s leadership for sustainable development. She identified women’s leadership strengths in identifying priorities, listening to others, managing budgets, and maintaining family structure.

AUW's Vice Chancellor Dr. Fahima Aziz also spoke on the occasion. Dr. Aziz noted that she could not think of a better place to host this institute than here at AUW. AUW is the most appropriate institution to do this since it is the first and the only pan-Asian university for young women from diverse cultural, religious and socio-economic background from South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The mission of AUW is to educate women to become highly motivated and effective professionals, leaders, and service-oriented citizens of the region and thereby promote the development of and intercultural understanding among the peoples of Asia.

The Leadership Institute is the first of a series of special programmes focused on women's leadership development that is being held at AUW this year. Beginning on September 9, AUW will host a ten-day Grassroots Women's Political Leadership Forum that will attract 60 women leaders from across South Asia to convene for a peer-to-peer training on effective strategies and tactics for leadership. US Ambassador for Global Women's Affairs Melanne Verveer is expected to be the keynote speaker at the Forum.