Wedu’s Unsung Supporters: Talent Spotters

Young Women Lead! Gender Equality and Social Entrepreneurship 2017, hosted by IRI featuring Wedu team members Chanikarn and Cee


Over the past few years, Wedu has worked with various educational institutions, NGOs, and social enterprises to advance our mission to unlock the leadership potential of women in Asia. Today, we work with over 150 future-thinking organizations, including Asian University for Women (AUW) and Women LEAD (Leadership, Education, Advocacy, and Development), both of whom have recommended upwards of a hundred young women to become Wedu’s Rising Stars. AUW is an independent, international university in Chittagong, Bangladesh founded in 2008 and Women LEAD is a leadership and professional development organization for young women in Kathmandu, Nepal. Together, Wedu believes that we can empower the next generation of women in Asia and balance the existing gender inequality in Asia and the world.

Participants share goals at a workshop with AUW

Many Asian countries today continue to be defined by patriarchal traditions and rules. While there have been some advances, women are still generally discouraged from pursuing higher education, finding a job, and being independent. Instead, they are raised into gender-specific roles designated to them by the patriarchal society— roles like wives and mothers. As a result of such patriarchal traditions, women are often denied opportunities in education, employment, and most importantly, leadership. Without female leaders, societies will continue to be steeped in their belief that women are not as capable as men. This results in a continuous cycle of an absence of female leaders as young women begin to internalize such discrimination and refuse to step up.

In light of such discrimination and lack of opportunity in Asia, it is crucial for Wedu to work closely with organizations like Women LEAD and universities like AUW that share our vision and goals. As Women LEAD shared: “At our core, [Wedu and Women LEAD] are joined in our shared mission to equip extraordinary young women to be leaders and changemakers in their communities and create change from the bottom up.” In a similar vein, AUW aims to educate a new generation of female leaders in Asia, by admitting students solely based on merit, and providing nearly all their students with full scholarships. “We support young women who are passionate about making a difference,” shared AUW, echoing Wedu’s mission.

Women LEAD started working with Wedu in 2013 and have supported Wedu by nominating some of the best young women in Nepal to become Rising Stars. Women LEAD has also been extremely supportive of Wedu’s outreach efforts. Every year, they invite a program alumni who is also a Rising Star to share her experience at Wedu in order to encourage the current batch of LEADers to join Wedu. AUW Centre for Career Development and International Programs have been working closely with Wedu since its inception in 2016. Similar to Women LEAD, AUW also played a critical role in recommending talented students to become Rising Stars. To date, there are 101 Rising Stars from AUW, the highest number from any of our Talent Spotters.

Cee (left) and Chanikarn (right) leading workshop sessions.

Over the years of partnership, Wedu, Women LEAD, and AUW have witnessed the development and transformation of these capable young women. Menuka Gurung, one of Wedu’s first Rising Stars and Women LEAD Nepal alumni, has benefitted greatly from both Wedu and Women LEAD’s programs. Menuka is currently pursuing higher education in Webster University and hopes to be an entrepreneur in the future. Menuka is a role model for Rising Stars and LEADers as she never forgets to give back; every year, she returns to Women LEAD to work with them during the recruitment process.

Women LEAD hopes to see their program participants occupying positions of power across a wide range of fields and be the ones who ultimately drive Nepal’s development agenda. “To young women [aspiring to become leaders], we want to urge them to remember who they are and where they come from as they progress on their leadership journey. Leadership is not about power, but about being powerful enough to create more leaders,” Women LEAD said.

Wedu would like to extend our deepest gratitude to AUW and Women LEAD for working closely with us to empower young women. “Our hope is that one day we can work ourselves out of existence,” shared Women LEAD. Wedu similarly hopes that there will come a day not far in the future where women are given equal opportunities at education, employment, and leadership roles. Wedu will continue working with Women LEAD, AUW, and all our Talent Spotters to make this dream a reality.

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