WASHINGTON, June 18, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Last night at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2,500 honored guests gathered at the 13th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards to recognize the impact of innovative social entrepreneurs, political representatives, human rights activists and civil society advocates who are creating sustainable change both globally and in their home countries.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the founder of Vital Voices, along with fashion designer and activist Diane von Furstenberg and CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell honored five women from Iraq, Guatemala, India, Tanzania and Syria who are working to strengthen democracy, increase economic opportunity and protect human rights.
Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices, said of the Global Leadership Awards honorees, “We don’t always get to see their faces or hear their voices, but they are there. Behind every crisis, beyond every story of triumph, there are women leaders who go out on a limb every day to create change and tonight we honor them.”
Rana Zaitouneh accepted the Global Trailblazer Award from Hillary Rodham Clinton on behalf of her sister, Razan Zaitouneh, who was kidnapped six months ago while working in Syria as a result of her commitment to advocating for human rights and empowering women.
Clinton said: “Her vital voice is silent now, even as her country continues to burn. So tonight, let us all speak for her. Let us raise our voices as one and demand the safe and immediate release of Razan Zaitouneh and all of the political prisoners in Syria as this conflict continues. We will not forget her. We will not forget the work she did, we will not forget the abuses she exposed, or the hope she cherished, the hope for a more peaceful and eventually democratic Syria. So let us recommit ourselves to making sure that her voice is heard through the voices of all of us and so many more. To stand up for the imprisoned and the oppressed. To empower women around the world who are agents of change, makers of peace, drivers of progress, that is what Vital Voices is all about.”
Upon accepting the award on behalf of her sister, Rana Zaitouneh said: “This award means so much to our family. It helps us to keep my sister’s life and work alive to the world. I watched the revolution from afar, guilty that I could do little to help, that I couldn’t be there for her, with her. Guilty that I had chosen flight, but proud that she had chosen to fight. She never stopped working, never stopped defending the people. She never lost hope, and even now, when she has been taken from us by monsters, I can see the changes she has made and continues to make from afar.”
This is the 10th anniversary of the Fern Holland Award which has been given annually in tribute to the legacy of American lawyer and human rights activist Fern Holland, who was killed while working for women’s rights in Iraq. The award honors a leader who takes tremendous risk to promote peace and defend the human rights of a targeted or vulnerable community. This year’s recipient was Iraqi lawyer Suaad Allami. Past recipients include Nataliya Dmytruk, a leader in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, Mukhtaran Bibi, a Pakistani human rights activist, and Mariane Pearl, journalist and widow of David Pearl.
The 2014 Global Leadership Awards honorees include: Iraqi lawyer Suaad Allami (Fern Holland Award); former Attorney General of Guatemala Claudia Paz y Paz (Leadership in Public Life Award); Indian social worker Priti Patkar (Human Rights Award); Tanzanian entrepreneur Dr. Victoria Kisyombe (Economic Empowerment Award); and Syrian lawyer and human rights activist Razan Zaitouneh (Global Trailblazer Award).
Now in its 13th year, the Global Leadership Awards honor women whose leadership has advanced economic, political and social progress in their communities and beyond.
Footage and photography are available upon request. Please email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vital Voices Global Partnership is a leading non-governmental organization that identifies, invests in and brings visibility to remarkable women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities. Founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 1997, the organization trains and mentors women leaders as agents of transformative change in economic development, human rights and political participation. The Vital Voices Global Leadership Network includes more than 14,000 leaders representing 144 countries who have trained and mentored 500,000 additional women and girls in their communities. Visit vitalvoices.org to learn more.