November 14, 2023
Remarks by Sara Mathews
Director of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs’ Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
at the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs Indo-Pacific Women in Tech Summit
November 14, 2023
Good morning! As the U.S. Department of State’s new Office Director for Press and Public Diplomacy in the East Asian and Pacific Bureau, it is my pleasure to be here today. This is also my first trip to beautiful Taiwan!
Let me first thank AIT Director Oudkirk and Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chen for their remarks. The incredible support from both AIT and the Taiwan authorities for the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs program is clear. It is an honor to share the stage with both of you for the opening ceremony of this AWE Indo-Pacific Women in Tech Conference.
Back in Washington, we were pleased, but not surprised, when we heard that Taiwan was chosen to host this event. Taiwan’s AWE program is the best within the region thanks to the significant support it receives from the Small and Medium Enterprise and Startup Administration. Taiwan has shown its commitment to AWE time and time again, and we are grateful for its generous contributions.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs established AWE in 2019 to empower women worldwide to fulfill their economic potential, creating conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all.
As Secretary Blinken said: “Promoting women’s economic security is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart and necessary thing to do. When everyone can contribute to their full potential, our economies are more prosperous, our societies are more full of opportunity, our nations are more peaceful, and everyone is better off.”
When we founded AWE, we had no idea how big this program would become, or how much impact it would have. Originally, the program was mostly active in the Western Hemisphere, where I have served most of my foreign service career. The AWE concept was simple: find a way to empower women around the world with the knowledge, networks, and access they need to launch or scale their own businesses.
Today, AWE has expanded to nearly 100 countries and reached more than 25,000 women despite being a young program. At this Indo-Pacific AWE conference, we have 75 women entrepreneurs representing cohorts from Brunei, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. I’m grateful for all of you in attendance and recognize those who were not able to join us.
AWE is continually expanding its reach to support a broader community of women entrepreneurs and provide seed funding to graduates through a range of public-private partnerships with U.S. leaders in business, the public sector, and academia.
In 2023, AWE added two more nations to its roster of Indo-Pacific programs, when Indonesia and South Korea launched their first AWE cohorts. We believe that AWE will continue to expand and mature in the Indo-Pacific region.
Together, we can make a difference and create a brighter future, not only for ourselves and our communities, but for future generations.
You, our AWE graduates, are laying the path, and leading the way, inspiring women throughout the world, and the young girls who will want to follow in your footsteps. It has started with you… but it will not end with you, because of the impact that you have had, and continue to have today.
Thank you for letting me join you today. I have high hopes for this program, and I look forward to seeing what we can all accomplish together. May today’s Indo-Pacific AWE Summit be the first of many to come!