Cartier Philanthropy - A world-class education for women leaders

A world-class education for women leaders


When a girl is educated, a chain reaction of positive impacts is set in motion. She marries later, has fewer children who are healthier and go to school and her community edges toward gender equity. When a woman is educated at university level, the ripple effects extend even further. Bangladesh’s first liberal arts institute — Asian University for Women — is committed to providing higher education in a part of the world where women are seldom encouraged to seek it. The university creates opportunities for underprivileged women to become community leaders, pioneers in male-dominated fields, and role models who inspire other young women to follow in their footsteps. We are funding 20 scholarships for promising young women from Asian countries to fulfil their potential and thrive.

Focus area
Access to Basic Services
Asian University for Women


It is estimated that Asia as a whole loses $40 billion each year as a result of gender gaps in education and employment.
Girls are often able to access primary education at rates comparable with boys, but at secondary school level their participation drops off rapidly.
One of the consequences is that women are 70% less likely than men to be actively employed, and when they enter the workforce, their occupation is predominantly centred on agricultural and lower-skilled jobs, with higher-value work taken by men.


Located in Chittagong, Bangladesh, the Asian University for Women (AUW) is a unique institution that empowers promising women from disadvantaged backgrounds across the region through education, enabling them to break out in patriarchal societies. It identifies talent in places where women’s potential is ordinarily bypassed or ignored - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and many more -, and provides them with a world-class liberal arts education.

The majority of AUW’s students, who receive full scholarships, are the first members of their families to attend university. During their studies, they participate in a mentorship programme and experience three different summer internships: one with a non-profit organisation, one with a private company and one with an entrepreneur.

Given the considerable differences in ability of its entrants, the university provides two bridge programmes called Pathways for Promise and Access Academy which deliver intensive classes in English, maths and computer literacy.

The 3-year bachelor’s programme in liberal arts and sciences that follows emphasizes the development of skills in critical thinking, problem-solving and ethical leadership.

Expected results

  • 20 disadvantaged young women from Asian countries are provided with full scholarships to obtain a university diploma and fulfil their potential.

Long-term strategy

Over 700 students from 15 Asian countries have already graduated from AUW. 75% of them have returned to their home country to work in government, development, the social sector and business. The other 25% continued their education at internationally-recognized graduate schools.