Asia Initiatives

Ban Ki-moon Award for Women's Empowerment

Each year, Asia Initiatives presents the Ban Ki-moon Award for Women's Empowerment to outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to women's rights issues. The award is instituted in the name of Eighth United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in honor of Mr. Ban's role in the creations of the UN Women department, the establishment of the first High-Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment and his work reducing the gender wage gap within the UN itself, increasing the number of women in senior management by over 40 percent. Asia Initiatives firmly believes that the women's movement must cross national, religious, ethnic and socioeconomic borders and seeks particularly to recognize individuals who reflect this ideal. See below for past honorees!

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem is a legendary feminist activist who has been an icon of the American feminist movement since the seventies. She got her start in activism during two years she lived in India, where she traveled across the country often carrying nothing but a sari, a bowl and a comb. She later went on to revolutionize the place of women in journalism, founding Ms. Magazine in 1972, co-founding New York magazine and traveling extensively to speak on women’s issues. As an activist, Steinem helped to found the Women’s Action Alliance, a national information center that specializes in gender-conscious and racially inclusive education, the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Women’s Media Center and Voters for Choice, a pro-choice political action committee.

Cecile Richards

Cecile Richards is a national leader of women's rights and social and economic justice. Before co-founding Super Majority, she served as the president of Planned Parenthood. The author of the New York Times Bestseller "Make Trouble", Richards works to increase affordable access to reproductive health care and to build a healthier and safer world for women and young people. She served as Deputy Chief of Staff to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. In 2011 and 2012, she was named one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Chelsea Clinton

As Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, Chelsea Clinton works to create greater opportunities for people to build better futures for themselves, their families, and their communities. Clinton is a tireless advocate for the empowerment of girls and women. As the author of “She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World” and the companion “She Persisted Around the World,” Clinton promotes the stories of empowered women to children, ensuring that young girls and boys have positive female role models. Additionally, she is focused on expanding access to early childhood education, improving the health and well-being of Americans across the country, and providing the next generation of young leaders with the resources they need to turn their ideas into action.

Eva Haller

Eva Haller is a Hungarian-American philanthropist and Asia Initiatives’ chief mentor. She participated in the Hungarian resistance movement during World War II when she was only 12 years old, working at night from a secret printing press hideout to publish anti-Hitler leaflets and once convincing a Nazi not to kill her from sheer force of will and persuasion. After WWI, she immigrated to the US cleaning houses during the day and completing her higher education at night. Haller and her husband later started a successful marketing company and she now serves as an advisor on the boards of a smorgasbord of nonprofits, including AI, Women For Women International, Free the Children, Sing for Hope, A Blade of Grass, Video Volunteers and the Jane Goodall Institute.

Dr. Madhura Swaminathan

Madhura Swaminathan is Professor and Head of the Economic Analysis Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore, and the Chairperson of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, a long-term partner of Asia Initiatives. With a doctorate in Economics from the University of Oxford, Swaminathan has worked on issues of food security, agriculture and rural development for over 25 years, and has authored ten books and numerous publications. She has served on the Committee of Development Policy of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations from 2013—2015.

Yue-Sai Kan

Yue-Sai kan is an entrepreneur and Emmy-winning Chinese American television producer and host, hailed by People Magazine as ‘the most famous woman in China.’ She is extensively involved in humanitarian efforts to build libraries and schools for underserved communities in China and serves as a ‘Say Yes’ Ambassador to the UN.

Kathy Matsui

As Vice Chair of Goldman Sachs Japan, co-head of Macro Research in Asia and chief Japan equity strategist, Kathy Matsui has been an advocate for women's empowerment, gender equality, women's health and education for years. The Wall Street Journal chose her as one of the "10 Women to Watch in Asia" for her work on the "Womenomics" theme, which identified investing in women as the key to creating stronger economies and a more equitable global society, based on peace, education, and sustainable development.