Investing in a Future for Asia’s Young Women

This article was originally published on the New York times website on September 1, 2013. For the full article please click
MariSINGAPORE — Mari Sawai and Mario Ferro, who graduated in 2009 from the Masters in Development program of the London School of Economics, founded Wedu last year, a program to help women in Southeast Asia gain access to higher education through microfinancing, mentorship and counseling.
Their aim, they say, is to apply private sector investment practices to a nonprofit organization. In the 18 months since Wedu — an acronym derived from Women’s Education — conducted its first workshop, the organization has raised about $130,000, providing backing for just five students, but it plans to expand fast and to be working with as many as 1,500 students by 2017. The organization, which is registered in Britain but based in Bangkok, aims its outreach efforts at top high schools in developing Southeast Asia — that is, countries other than Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei, which are generally classified as developed. The target schools tend to have students with sufficient academic ability to go to university.

[caption id="attachment_893" align="alignleft" width="140"] Katie[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1317" align="alignleft" width="140"] Naruedee[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1466" align="alignleft" width="140"] Noor[/caption]                 On Saturday 3 August 2013, the Wedu team is coming to the Law Faculty at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. Wedu will share it’s programming to the institution’s female students from Cambodia and Myanmar....

  Wedu is looking for Mentors from all sectors to develop female leadership in the least developed countries of South East Asia! Wedu catalyzes the development of young women in developing countries into local leaders by providing them with inspiring mentorship and innovative financing to complete university....

Editor's Note: Thida is the author of Wedu’s first mentorship program blog. She is a student in Health Economics, mentored by Tricia who lives in the USA and is a consultant with the Clinton Foundation. Thida learned about Wedu's scholarships and mentorship program when she met Co-Founder, Mario at a Myanmar student meeting in Cha Am, Thailand. Read Thida's blog below on her experiences thus far as a mentee in Wedu's mentorship program. Thida on Mentorship   How has mentorship inspired me? This mentorship drew my attention in Cha Am beach town in November 2012. I was selected to attend a Myanmar scholarship students’ meeting in Cha Am. During our meetings, a man introduced this program after exhibiting with pamphlets and marketing about his organization’s visions and missions. His promotion attracted my interest and I was curiously to learn about the idea of mentorship program. I pondered about how does it work and how can be bridged between this program and my Mon Community in Mon State.   My burning desire to apply to

Thanks to hundreds of students, Wedu is creating the first ASEAN University Ranking by Students, for Students: The Wedu Ranking!   This is not the arrival point, rather it is the beginning of a journey of discovery of the universities across South East Asia. We invite you to be involved and participate by sharing your experience. To participate as a current student click here. To participate as an alumnus and professional click here.   THANK YOU to the students who have answered our survey!   Today, we are proud  to plant the seeds of what is going to be  the very first ranking of universities in South East Asia that looks at what students really think of their university experience, and that can be used by all students to choose the best university for them!   To make this ranking, we have been collecting the opinions of students on their universities. We have asked their opinions on many aspects of their experience, such as their university’s facilities, their teachers and their learning experiences, and the help received in their career and professional development.   Wedu’s mission is to develop leadership in women, so we have also asked questions to understand women’s experiences inside their university, and to measure universities’ focus on leadership development.  

2013-05-30 23.31.09 Wedu has won the Global Solution Award GSA at Women Deliver 2013 Conference! The GSA is a new social enterprise competition recognizing financially sustainable business models that have profound and large-scale social impact potential on women and girls. Wedu received a $5000 USD cash grant with the award. This is our most recent grant of the five awards we've copped in the 18 months of our existence. Mi Win Thida, Wedu’s mentee from Myanmar, presented at the conference – talking about the impact that Wedu’s mentorship has had on her life – together with Marica Rizzo, Mentorship Manager, making a convincing presentation of their work that won the votes from the impressively experienced panel of judges that included

Bill_Melinda_GatesYou hear the name, and you think: Microsoft, and wife of the wealthiest man on earth. But did you know Bill and Melinda Gates have given away more money than anyone in world history? Not only is the couple rich, they are generous. And much of their wealth goes to people living right here. Fortune, fame, and a successful career in the corporate world are not what make Melinda Gates one of the greatest female leaders in the world; her determination in giving out what she has to help those who are in need and help advancing equity in the world is what we always remember her of. Angela Merkel, Dilma Rousseff, Yingluck Shinawatra, Joyce Banda... Just to name a few of the incumbent female heads of government around the world. Compared to a century ago, women are gaining importance in both international and domestic politics as they are occupying various important positions in national governments and multilateral organizations. While it seems that more and more female politicians are rising in power, let us not be contend with the status-quo: only one-fifth of the seats in the parliaments are occupied by women worldwide, and the figure in Asia, Middle East and Pacific is even lower than the world average. Women, in today’s world, are still underrepresented in the political arena. What are the major obstacles that women face in political participation? According to studies, it is a complex issue as it can be traced back to a number of institutional, historical, socio-economic as well as cultural factors. UN Women found that in Bhutan,