By Diane von Furstenberg
I believe there is an inherent strength in every woman. I have seen this strength sustain and invigorate women and inspire those around them.
I was raised by a woman with an invulnerable will, a Holocaust survivor who taught me that “fear is not an option.” But despite my mother’s history, she was always adamant that she was not a victim – above all other things, she was, as every woman at one time or another discovers she is, a survivor.
I often say that I have never met a woman who is not strong, but sometimes that strength is hiding. I have always felt it is my duty and privilege to support another woman as she becomes the greatest version of herself. No woman should be denied this vital opportunity to realize who she can be and what she can do to contribute to this world.
In commemoration of International Women’s Day on March 8th, I will join a community of advocates and leaders at various events throughout the month to honor and celebrate women who are transforming our world with their compassion and talent.
Since becoming a Board Member of Vital Voices Global Partnership, a non-governmental organization that invests in and enhances women’s leadership potential, I have been able to help support their work to empower women around the world through their growing network. Vital Voices is an organization with a unique and powerful message – invest in women, improve the world – and that is what we have done! We worked with Rebecca Lolosoli, an artisan and activist from Kenya whose necklaces I feature in my 2010 Spring Collection. Rebecca is a survivor of domestic violence who has had the courage to stand for women’s rights, and on March 10th, it will be my pleasure to present her with an award at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards.
At the United Nations headquarters in New York, later that week, I will host the inaugural DVF Awards to honor four exceptional women who are giving back to their communities. Among the honorees are Vital Voices Network members Danielle Saint-Lot of Haiti and Sadiqa Basiri of Afghanistan, incredible women who have defied the limitations of poverty, war, and prejudice and empowered their communities.
Throughout March, we will be celebrating women with a variety of other activities and campaigns. Incredible artists like Christina Aguilera and Mary J. Blige have come together in the spirit of collaboration and contributed songs to the Proud to be Woman CD, a compilation that will benefit Vital Voices. In addition to the CD, a portion of all sales in DVF stores and on DVF.com will go to benefit Vital Voices. We will also launch an exciting advocacy campaign – Women Can and Do – which will profile women activists, capturing their passion and communicating their strength. Women can change our world, they already do.
I am thrilled to be a part of these events, and contribute to a larger movement for women’s empowerment globally. Our strength as women not only binds us, it motivates us to support one another across nations and generations. When I see a woman who is confident, fulfilled, and exhilarated as she contributes to those around her – I see her spirit, I see the light in her. It is time every woman had the opportunity to shine as she was intended.