Back to listApr 28, 2006

Anson Chan, Former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, Receives Honorary Doctorate from Soka University and Speaks on "Women in the 21st Century"

Ms. Chan speaks on women's roles in the contemporary age

On April 27, Ms. Anson Chan, former chief secretary for administration in Hong Kong, received an honorary doctorate from Soka University. Ms. Chan was head of Hong Kong's civil service, from 1993 to 2001, before and after the territory's handover to the People's Republic of China from British colonial rule. She is the first woman and the first Chinese to hold the second-highest governmental position in Hong Kong and is regarded as "Hong Kong's conscience." Her mother Fang Zhaoling (1914-2006) was a renowned Chinese painter and calligrapher. In March 1996, Ms. Chan and Madame Fang both received honorary doctorates from the University of Hong Kong at the 151st congregation, together with SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and three other individuals.

Following the conferral, Ms. Chan lectured on "Women in the 21st Century." She began by paying tribute to her late mother, Fang Zhaoling, who served as an inspiration to her entire family and others who had the fortune to know her. Imbued with a quiet strength and intellectual acumen, Madame Fang poured into her art--a blending of East and West, sophistication and naivety--the warmth and wisdom that emanated from her life. Referring to her mother as an ideal role model for contemporary women everywhere--a woman truly ahead of her time, Ms. Chan reflected on an age, in the not so distant past, when a woman was not expected to pursue a career but make her home her world. Today, however, "the modern woman make take the helm of both the board room and the dining room" albeit "with the same commitment, responsibility, perseverance, courage, energy, tenderness and care." Ms. Chan assured the audience that each woman has the potential to succeed in all sectors of society--public, business, commerce, arts and sciences--with courage, hard work and perseverance in pursuing what she believes to be right for her life.

In the final analysis, Ms. Chan said the essential qualities for a true leader make no gender distinctions. In her view, the best leaders are honest men and women of integrity and ethics who practice what they preach. They are able to encourage and motivate others to bring out the best of themselves, foster good successors, and can anticipate and manage change to keep up with a changing world.

Ms. Chan then shared a story about heading a panel of judges for selecting outstanding Hong Kong women professionals and entrepreneurs last year in 2005. The winners were clearly exceptional leaders in their chosen fields and ably balanced their roles at work and in the family, but what struck her was that they "all shared a vision of leadership that was infused with broad sympathies, creativity, generosity of spirit and community involvement" that made them excellent role models for generations of young people everywhere, male and female.

In closing Ms. Chan encouraged young students to take advantage of the education they receive to address the many concerns of our age, as well as contribute to fostering friendship, understanding and peace between China and Japan.