top of page


The Catalysts of Change Event Aims to Bridge Urban Women Leaders with Rural Entrepreneurs 

On March 15, 2024, the Harvard Club in New York City hosted "Catalysts of Change—Fostering Female Leadership in Rural Revitalization," an impactful parallel event to the 68th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW68), from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. This significant gathering, sponsored by WAKSAW-Uddiyana Archaeological Association, Woodenfish, and the Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights, delved into the vital role of female leadership in transforming rural businesses and communities.


Aligning with the theme of the UN CSW68, "Addressing poverty through a gender lens, strengthening institutions and financing to accelerate the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls," the event underscored the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focusing on Quality Education, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Climate Action, Life on Land, and Partnerships for the Goals. WAKSAW, leading the sponsorship, emphasized its dedication to exploring the intricate history of Buddhism and advocating for cultural heritage, alongside fostering female leadership and gender equality in line with the UN’s SDGs.


The event featured insightful speeches, including from Mr. Yinghan Zhai, WAKSAW's Executive Director, who highlighted the importance of empowering women in rural areas for global gender equality. Keynotes, panels, and roundtables by eminent thought leaders covered topics such as mentorship, effective business strategies in rural contexts, and innovative financial solutions, aiming to strengthen women-led enterprises in rural settings.


Ms. Yali Xuan introduced the Her Power initiative, focusing on breaking down systemic barriers faced by rural women and promoting economic, social, and cultural inclusivity. Esteemed speakers like Her Excellency Kitoko Gata Ngoulou, Ambassador of the Republic of Chad to the U.S., and Dr. Yifa, founder of Woodenfish Foundation, shared their perspectives on education, digitalization, and leadership in rural development. Discussions also touched on the establishment of support centers and networks to aid rural women, with contributions from speakers such as Danilo Parmegiani of the Legion of Goodwill and entrepreneur William Woo.


This assembly not only highlighted the challenges and opportunities for female leadership in rural revitalization but also set a collaborative path forward in support of gender equality and empowerment across the globe.


WAKSAW Co-Sponsors International Symposium on the Buddhist Heritage of Gandhāra at Harvard University

This symposium took place at the esteemed Harvard University Asia Center from 9 am to 5 pm on March 23. This event marked a significant collaboration between WAKSAW-Uddiyana Archaeological Alliance, the Harvard University Asia Center, and the Woodenfish Foundation.


Our symposium brought together eminent scholars and experts in the field of Buddhism civilizations research, focusing on the rich Buddhist heritage of Gandhāra. The day was filled with enlightening discussions and presentations, starting with an opening address by Professor James Robson, the newly appointed director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute, who also served as the moderator for the day.


Speakers included Dr. Ghani-ur-Rahman from the Institute of Asian Civilizations, who explored Gandharan Buddhist Art, and Professor Pia Brancaccio from Drexel University, who delved into the Architecture of Gandharan Stupas. Professor Jason Neelis of Wilfrid Laurier University shared insights on Localized Dimensions of Buddhist Material Practices, while Ms. Zenab Adnan Aurangzeb from the Swat royal family offered engaging tales of her family's history and efforts in safeguarding Buddhist cultural heritage.


The afternoon sessions featured Professor Luca M. Olivieri, discussing the construction and decoration of ancient Buddhist stupas, and Dr. Chai Yee Leow from Harvard University, who examined Gandhara Buddhist Historiography with references from Chinese sources. Yunyao Zhai, also from Harvard University, presented a captivating look at the Swat Valley through the eyes of Tibetan pilgrims.


The event concluded with remarks from Professor James Robson and Dr. Yifa, emphasizing the significance of cultural exchange and the potential of archaeological sites in Swat to inspire scholars and researchers. Yali Xuan, founder of WAKSAW, expressed gratitude to all attendees and underscored the importance of international collaboration in advancing the study of Buddhist traditions and history.


WAKSAW is proud to have been part of this symposium, showcasing our ongoing commitment to promoting the study and appreciation of Buddhism's history and cultural heritage. We look forward to continuing our work with universities like Harvard and organizations like the Woodenfish Foundation to further our mission.



Reflecting on the Dialogue of Civilization & Tolerance Conference

We at WAKSAW are pleased to recount our participation in the recent International Conference on the Dialogue of Civilization & Tolerance held in Abu Dhabi. This event marked a significant milestone in our continuous effort to foster understanding and collaboration across diverse cultures and disciplines.

Representing the archaeological community, our delegation from WAKSAW Uddiyana had the privilege of engaging in insightful discussions and sharing our perspectives on the pivotal role of archaeology in bridging civilizations. The conference provided a unique platform for dialogue, enabling participants to explore the complexities of coexistence and the foundations of mutual respect.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Ministry of Tolerance & Coexistence of the UAE and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations for organizing this enlightening event. Their commitment to promoting global dialogue and tolerance is commendable and aligns with our goals of advancing knowledge and understanding across cultures.

The conversations initiated and the relationships forged at the conference will undoubtedly influence our work and approach to archaeology. We remain committed to the principles of dialogue and tolerance and are inspired by the potential for positive change that this conference has highlighted.

We look forward to continuing the conversations started in Abu Dhabi and to further contributing to the global discourse on civilization and tolerance. Our participation in this conference has not only enriched our understanding but has also strengthened our resolve to pursue our mission with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.


Visit to the University of Birmingham’s Abu Dhabi Campus: A Journey Through Buddhist Philosophy

We are proud to announce a recent educational and exploratory visit to the University of Birmingham’s Abu Dhabi campus. This visit allowed our members to immerse themselves in the profound principles of Buddhist philosophy, engaging in discussions that seamlessly connected ancient wisdom with contemporary global issues of tolerance, understanding, and peace.

Our journey through the realms of Buddhism provided a unique perspective on cultural interactions and the importance of nurturing meaningful dialogues across civilizations. By focusing on the core values of compassion, empathy, and interconnectedness, we were inspired to consider innovative approaches to addressing the challenges facing our global community.

We are deeply thankful for this opportunity to enrich our understanding and to contribute to the ongoing conversation about the significance of philosophical and cultural perspectives in building a harmonious world. This experience reaffirms our commitment to promoting dialogue, respect, and an open-minded approach to the diverse narratives that shape our global society.

As we continue on this path of discovery and engagement, we invite others to join us in these vital conversations. Through collective effort and shared vision, we can transform dialogue into tangible actions, contributing to a more peaceful and understanding world.

bottom of page