Initiative launches with Inaugural Partnership with Peking University beginning June 5

June 3, 2013

Wellesley College, the premier liberal arts institution known for cultivating some of the world’s most influential women leaders—from Madame Chiang Kai-shek to Hillary Clinton—has announced a major global initiative with a critical mission: to educate the next generation of women leaders around the world.

Research shows that investing in women is the surest and most effective way to improve economic and societal outcomes around the world. According to the World Bank, countries with higher gender equality exhibit lower poverty levels and have higher GDP per capita. In China, the World Bank reported that increasing adult female income led to an increase in the years of schooling for both boys and girls. In contrast, a comparable increase in male income reduced survival rates and educational attainment for girls, with no impact on boys. Furthermore, the United Nations finds that survival rates for children rise with the level of the mother’s education.

It’s clear that when women are empowered to pursue higher education, make their own choices and plan for their own futures, and have educational, financial and employment opportunities equal to those of men, the benefits are wide-reaching. But for far too many women around the world—including many women in the United States—such opportunity is simply not available.

Wellesley’s initiative, called Women World Partners (WWP), represents the College’s bid—and its most wide-reaching effort to date—to educate women for leadership and to invest in women’s leadership on a global scale.

The Women World Partners initiative is unlike that of any women’s leadership effort to date. An expert on educating women for leadership, Wellesley has innovated—for its Albright Institute for Global Affairs—an educational model for preparing women for leadership on a global scale—a pedagogy based on a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving. Beginning with this inaugural partnership with Peking University, Wellesley plans to establish a series of additional partnerships with other leading educational institutions around the world. The goal? Producing more women leaders.

Launch in Beijing, June 5-15, 2013

To kick off the partnership, 20 Wellesley students will travel to Beijing to participate in an intensive 10-day academic program with 20 female students from Peking University. Supported by faculty from both institutions, outstanding practitioners from the field, and thought leaders from around the world, these 40 young women will work together to examine a number of issues connected to worldwide urbanization. They will explore issues such as economic inequality, wildlife preservation, and food scarcity—joining perspectives from their disciplines, including economics, environmental science, and political science, as well as from their respective cultures. In pursuit of fresh insight into some of the world’s most pressing global problems, they will use the highly successful pedagogic model established by Wellesley’s Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs.

On June 8, former U.S. Secretary of State under the Clinton administration and Wellesley alumna Madeleine Albright will officially launch Women World Partners at Peking University with a keynote address on the imperative of educating women for leadership. She will also participate in the academic program, for which she will teach a master class for the 40 students and lead a faculty forum on the importance of the liberal arts disciplines in a global world. Secretary Albright will also mark the start of Wellesley’s new global initiative with a reception at the United States Embassy attended by women leaders from both the United States and China.

The academic program will culminate in a one-day summit, Women’s Leadership: Making a Difference in the World. Conference speakers will be high-profile leaders from government, business, and the media, including Madame Chen Zhili, vice chairman, 11th Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress; Pamela Melroy, astronaut for U.S. and graduate of Wellesley; Liu Yang, astronaut for China; Madame Wu Qidi, former vice minister, Ministry of Education; Mona Locke, television journalist; Gary Locke, U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China; Sarah O’Donnell, CEO, Seibu Enterprises; Lin Tianmiao, Artist; Wang Enge, President, Peking University; H. Kim Bottomly, president of Wellesley College and renowned scientist; Shirley Young, president of Shirley Young Associates, LLC, former corporate vice president, General Motors, and graduate of Wellesley; Yang Lan, media entrepreneur and celebrated talk show host; Wu Qing, legislator and educator; Hu Shuli, editor in chief of Caixin Media; and Hsueh-ming Wang, Chairman of China, Blackrock. The conference will conclude with a dinner at the historic Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, featuring a keynote address by Madame Chen Zhili and a multimedia performance by Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun, who will preview an excerpt from his new work, Nv Shu: The Secret Songs of Women.

Women’s Leadership and the Liberal Arts in China

Wellesley College has longstanding ties with China. In 1906, a Chinese delegation visited Wellesley at the urging of the Dowager Empress Cixi who was interested in the education of women. Mei-ling Soong (later Madame Chiang Kai-shek) graduated from Wellesley in 1917. Shortly thereafter, Bing Xin, one of China’s most celebrated writers of the twentieth century, earned a degree in literature from Wellesley in 1926. Recognized in China as a leader in the education of women, Wellesley continues to enroll some of China’s brightest, most high-achieving young women. Building on this history, the College is uniquely positioned to collaborate with a leading Chinese university on the advancement of women’s global-leadership readiness through the liberal arts.

Peking University (also known as Beida) has emerged as one of the world’s leading universities. It was the first national university covering comprehensive disciplines in China, and has been a leading institution of higher education in China since its establishment. The presence of its own liberal arts college (Yuanpei College) within the University makes Beida an ideal partner for Wellesley as the role of the liberal arts is expanded to help address global problems. Moreover, Beida is keenly interested in focusing on women’s leadership.

Women World Partners

After June, the Wellesley College/Peking University Partnership will continue with faculty and student exchanges, joint research, virtual collaborations and more. And in 2014, Peking University students will travel to Wellesley for another joint academic program supported by faculty from both institutions and based on the unique interdisciplinary pedagogy developed for Wellesley’s Albright Institute for Global Affairs. The next international partnership will be announced by Wellesley in 2014. (Visit

Press Contact

Sofiya Cabalquinto, Wellesley College, 781.283.3321,