Around Town: Vital Voices Celebrates Visionary Women

by Erica Moody

Bill Clinton delivered remarks at the 2015 Global Leadership Awards.

by Diba Mohtasham

The honorees (Courtesy Photo)

The night’s honorees (Courtesy Photo)

Some of the most important leaders and changemakers in the world gathered in one room for the 14th annual Global Leadership Awards at the Kennedy Center on Tuesday, hosted by Vital Voices Global Partnership. The event celebrated five extraordinary women, each with a daring vision for the future of their communities.

“We need to spend a lot more time elevating, even revering and cherishing, what we have in common. Human beings being imperfect like they are, problems will continue but they will be better managed because every day we will get up being reminded that our differences make life more interesting, but our common humanity is more important,” said former president Bill Clinton. “That is the enduring legacy of Vital Voices.”


Former President Bill Clinton (Courtesy Photo)

The honorees were political leader Kah Walla of Cameroon, entrepreneur and conservationist Yin Myo Su of Myanmar, documentary filmmaker and anthropologist Samar Minallah Khan of Pakistan, activist Amira Yahyaoui of Tunisia and entrepreneur Karla Ruiz Cofiño of Guatemala. Each innovator presented her vision for the future and creative solutions to various challenges in the world.

“The most important thing is to go out there and do things together. Gather those communities in the real world. This is how we build strong virtual communities– not around ourselves, but around the issues that we care about. The future starts with us, using all the tools we have, so that together, we can really change the world,” said Cofiño.

Among the distinguished presenters were Carnegie Endowment for International Peace President Bill Burns, Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, Spanx founder Sara Blakely, actress Sally Field and others. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on women, Vital Voices presented the special edition Vanguard Award to each honoree.

Diane von Furstenberg, left,  presents Karla Ruiz Cofino of Guatemala with her award during the  14th Annual Global Leadership Awards Tuesday, June 16, 2015 in Washington at the Kennedy Center. (Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks)

Diane von Furstenberg, left, presents Karla Ruiz Cofino of Guatemala with her award (Photo courtesy Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks)

Vital Voices Global Partnership was founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The NGO invests in and brings visibility to emerging women leaders around the world through programs that create change.

They enable these leaders with the skills and tools needed to create a better world for all.

“The women we celebrate tonight are true visionaries, and we are inspired by their work to call on every global citizen to share their ideas for building a brighter, safer, more inclusive future” said Alyse Nelson, CEO of Vital Voices. “We must continue to strive for innovative solutions, celebrate visionary leaders, and continue to empower women and girls worldwide.”

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