For the first time in the 11-year history of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards, Hillary Clinton couldn’t make it.
A trip to Turkey kept the Secretary of State from attending the awards ceremony, held at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House on Wednesday evening, but it didn’t keep her from appearing on screen to deliver a taped greeting to the 2,000-plus guests and eight female honorees in the theater that night.
Clinton, after all, is an integral part of the history of the Vital Voices Global Partnership, which she and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright started as a U.S. government initiative in 1997, and which has since grown into its own as a nonprofit organization — though with the same mission of advancing women’s roles as economic, social and political forces of change.
The nine leadership award recipients (only eight of whom could attend) were women from around the world who are leading just such progress.
• The human rights award went to Rosana Schaack, a Liberian woman who founded an organization to help rehabilitate the country’s girl soldiers.
• The leadership in public life award went to Ruth Zavaleta Salgado, a Mexican politician who stood up against her own party.
• The Fern Holland award went to Samar Minallah Kahn, an activist and documentary filmmaker in Pakistan’s Northwestern Frontier exposing the horrors of practices like forced marriage and swara.
• The economic empowerment award went to Adimaimalaga Tafuna’i of Samoa, whose organization helped spur her country’s participation in market economies.
• And the global trailblazer award went to five Arab women — Shatha Al-Harazi, Manal Alsharif, Salwa Bugaighis, Marianne Ibrahim and Amira Yahyaoui — each of whom have been forces of change in the Arab Spring.
All nine of these women model strong, effective and inspiring leadership. Their stories are further profiled in Emily Wax’s recent Washington Post piece, “Vital Voices Global Partnership honors female leaders.”
We also interviewed Vital Voices president and CEO Alyse Nelson for our On Leadership video series a while back, and you can watch here her great interview about the life-threatening risks that women are taking around the globe to be leaders of positive change in places where they have not traditionally had a voice:
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