Denmark’s First Female Prime Minister Joins AUW as a Patron

CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH –
Media OutReach Newswire – 2 May 2024 – Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark’s first female Prime Minister and a decade-long leader of the Social Democrat Party of her country, has joined the Asian University for Women (AUW) in Bangladesh as a Patron. Prime Minister Thorning Schmidt also served as the Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children International and continues to serve on a variety of important Board and Advisory roles, including as Co-Chair of Facebook’s Oversight Board that addresses complex issues relating to freedom of expression.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Asian University for Women (https://asian-university.org) which was co-founded in 2008 by another prominent Danish political leader, former Environment Minister the late Lone Dybkjaer, has gained wide recognition and support In Denmark. The Lone Dybkjaer Foundation was expressly established under the stewardship of Ms. Dybkjaer’s husband, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen – who served three terms as Prime Minister of Denmark. Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen attended the annual Commencement of the Asian University for Women in 2023 in Chittagong, Bangladesh and, in drawing attention to the vital importance of women’s education and empowerment as a matter of human right as well as for addressing wider global challenges, termed the event as “the most important meeting of all” that he had ever attended.

Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt said “I am delighted to be joining the Asian University for Women as a Patron. No other university in the world does what AUW does — it proactively seeks out through numerous creative methods to reach the most marginalized adolescent girls in the world, prepare them for university education, and graduate them as extraordinarily well-rounded and skilled young women who carry a strong determination to devote their lives to overcoming injustice and underdevelopment. Nelson Mandela was my hero as a child — and these young women who despite all unimaginable obstacles still persist in creating a new world have also captured my admiration. I look forward to helping the AUW mission in whatever way I can.”

Prime Minister Rasmussen said “I am enormously pleased that my friend Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt is joining AUW as a Patron. She broke many “glass ceilings” and propelled significant changes more widely through her keen intellect and passion for a more just world. On a personal note, it so happens that my late wife Lone Dybkjaer (after whom the AUW Danish Foundation is named) served in the European Parliament with Helle as well as Helle’s late mother-in-law, Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead, on the European Parliament at the same time.”

Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen with Lone Dybkjaer Scholars in front of a portrait of the late Lone Dybkjaer at AUW’s Mahsa Amini Center

Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen with Lone Dybkjaer Scholars in front of a portrait of the late Lone Dybkjaer at AUW’s Mahsa Amini Center

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s awakening to the great social issues came at an early age: as a teen-ager growing up in Denmark she was already repelled by the cruelty and absurdity of apartheid South Africa. As the Prime Minister of Denmark, she caused a significant increase in Danish support for education. She noted then: “…we must not forget vulnerable children living in insecure areas, children living in fragile situations. Their right to education is extremely important.” As the CEO of Save the Children International, she particularly advocated for protection of the vulnerable in Syria, Yemen and the Rohingyas from the Rakhine state of Burma.

Educated at the University of Copenhagen and the College of Europe, she brings to the Asian University for Women her deep appreciation of education as an instrument of women’s empowerment and an unflinching commitment to help build this institution as a center of global excellence where every young woman of talent can aspire to get a great education and renew her commitments to the creation of a just world.

The AUW Council of Patrons is chaired by Chief Patron Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Other Patrons include Mrs. Cherie Blair CBE KC (UK); Laura Bush (USA); Emma Bonino (Italy) and other luminaries from around the world.

Hashtag: #AUW

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