In her book Lean In, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg states,“Fear is the root of so many of the barriers that women face. Fear of not being liked. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of drawing negative attention. Fear of overreaching. Fear of being judged. Fear of failure.”
Sandberg articulates one of the root causes for the lack of women leaders in the world - fear. Fortunately, MetLife Foundation has teamed up with the Asian University for Women (AUW) to ensure more women can gain the skills and confidence they need to shed such fear and achieve their dreams.
AUW is the first liberal arts university for women in South Asia. Based in Chittagong, Bangladesh, AUW educates women from 15 different Asian countries and provides scholarships, so that talented but underprivileged women may become future leaders. AUW also offers a yearlong pre-university bridge program called Access Academy, which prepares students for AUW’s rigorous English-medium undergraduate program. Throughout, Access Academy students take intensive courses in English language and composition, text interpretation, computing, mathematics, science and world history.
Maria Qazi Azmi recently completed Access Academy and says, AUW is her “home away from home.” She elaborates - “Meeting new people here is my favorite part of AUW. There are so many languages to learn, and different cultures that seem fascinating. Next year I would like to join the Debate Club, Martial Arts Club, Japanese Circle Club, Model United Nations, and the basketball team.”
Before Maria learned about AUW, she was unsure if she would be able to pursue higher education after her father fell ill and lost his employment. Now studying Public Health on a generous scholarship, Maria aims to become a healthcare practitioner and help people.
MetLife Foundation has recently joined forces with the Asian University for Women to support students like Maria succeed in Access Academy and gain access to knowledge. This MetLife–AUW partnership is just the first of many initiatives that will allow diverse women from Asia to earn higher education and become leaders. With a broad range of opportunities to engage in the campus community, the local region and abroad, AUW and MetLife are offering women a chance to choose their own journey without fear.