By Office of Public Affairs
Bangkok, March 8, 2022 – For the Spring Semester starting in January, the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) initiated scholarships for master’s program that will allow four female students from Afghanistan to obtain an education at AIT. AIT, the generous donors of these scholarships, and the student recipients are all contributing to the goal of the International Women’s Day 2022: Break the Bias.
Last Fall, when the news of women in Afghanistan not getting equal opportunities for schools and jobs reached AIT—an international postgraduate institute in Thailand established for sustainable development of the region, AIT President Dr. Eden Woon saw the need to initiate a scholarship for Afghan female students to fulfill the institute’s mission. Sharing the same values, the Thai Pipe Industry, Osotspa Public Company, and CEO of Christiani & Nielsen Energy Solutions (CNES), Bangkok, agreed to sponsor four scholarships with AIT in total.
“Afghanistan is part of AIT’s extensive family since we have long had excellent students from this country. When we heard that female students were now facing difficulties in getting higher education in their country, AIT wanted to help them come to AIT. And we were fortunate to immediately find like-minded donors for scholarships,” said AIT President Woon.
The scholarship recipients were among applicants from around the world applying to study in the Spring 2022 semester at AIT. They were selected based on their academic records and determination to pave the way for other women in Afghanistan to actively participate in their society.
“They all say that women are a burden, but that’s not the case. Women are not a burden; they’re just not given a chance,” said Sameera, currently enrolled in the Business Analytics and Digital Transformation program at AIT. Sameera graduated in Computer Science top of her class and was offered a teaching position at her alma mater. Like other girls and women in the country, Sameera’s movement, expression, and association have been restricted. Still, she seeks higher education and opportunities to improve situation for girls and women in her country.
Colonel Dr. Yanyong Phataralaoha, Executive Director of Thai Pipe Industry, explained that we are no longer living in a labor-intensive society where women can contribute less than men. From manufacturing-based to service-based economies, men and women can equally contribute to the socio-economic development of any countries. By providing scholarships to women from Afghanistan, he believes that “they will undoubtedly be great role models and mentors to women in the fields, either in their home country or anywhere else in the world.”
Laila, a recipient of Emeritus Professor Madan Mohan Das scholarship, echoed similar thinking, “The main purpose of a human being is to serve the society. If I don’t have the right to serve my own society somehow, I can use the potential I have to serve other societies.” A former civil engineer, Laila is hoping to manage water resources of Afghanistan for the sustainable development of her country. She is currently enrolled in the Water Engineering and Management program with scholarship supported by the CEO of Christiani & Nielsen Energy Solutions (CNES), Bangkok.
“Giving scholarship is empowering people to enhance life – life of the scholarship recipients, to enhance lives of the people in their families, and eventually to enhance lives of people in the society,” Nukit Chonlacoop, Chief Manufacturing Officer of Osotspa Public Company, explained why his company decided to partner with AIT and offer the scholarship.
By initiating the scholarship specifically for the female students from Afghanistan, AIT and its partners believe that women can contribute to sustainable development from wherever they are. It is along this line of thought and belief in equality that is going to break the bias in gender.
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. Action is needed to level the playing field.