“Glamour is about how much good women can do. It is about courage, strength, and determination. It is about selflessness.” Those were the words of Queen Rania of Jordan at this year’s Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York City, and I couldn’t agree with her more.
For the past 20 years, Glamour magazine has saluted the bravest and smartest women through their Women of the Year Awards—and honorees have included some of the most world-changing women in modern history. The roster is full of politicos like Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Susan Rice; activists like Ling Chai who bravely stood in front of tanks in China’s Tiananmen Square and Pakistani human rights advocate Mukhtar Mai, whom IWHC honored at its 2006 Gala for her courageous leadership; and 2010 Academy Award hopeful Julianne Moore, who spoke out for reproductive rights in the magazine.
Those are some big names, but I have to say I was completely awed to be in the same building with this year’s winners, which included actor Julia Roberts and Katie Spotz, who rowed across the Atlantic Ocean this year to raise awareness about the lack of clean drinking water in the developing world. Young gay rights activist Constance McMillan beamed as she revealed her simple philosophy to the audience, “If you see something wrong, do something about it.” I learned that Cher, famous for her husky voice and over-the-top outfits, is also the National Chairperson for the Children’s Craniofacial Association and co-founded an organization that helps wounded war veterans on their way to recovery. And seeing the female heads of state of Liberia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Trinidad and Tobago on stage together? Well, that kind of blew me away.
But my absolute favorite moments of the evening were hearing Chelsea Clinton list the names and unbelievable accomplishments of 20 young women who already bring hope and inspiration to their communities, and learning about this year’s Women of the Year Fund honorees.
For the past four years, Glamour has set aside a special award for gutsy women working locally to change the realities of women’s lives—much like IWHC. This year, they celebrated Dr. Hawa Abdi, an ob-gyn in Somalia who houses tens of thousands of refugees on what was once her family’s farmland. Together with her two daughters who are also doctors, they provide life-saving medical assistance and nourishment to roughly 90,000 people in need. For more information on their work, click here.