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Women Bisnow
April 8, 2008


This issue of Washington Women is presented by
Reznick Group:
"Building Business Value"


By Karin Tanabe for Bisnow on Business


When sitting in on board meetings or glimpsing CSPAN images of the Senate floor, it’s easy to forget that 51% of the world is women. But last night, Washington did not forget. In the sold-out Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, the Vital Voices Global Partnership, an NGO empowering women leaders around the world, honored six women for furthering women’s political and economic progress and protecting human rights.


Education champion Kakenya Ntaiya of Kenya, professor and political corruption activist Laura Alonso of Argentina, journalist and author Mariane Pearl of France, human rights activists Khin Ohmar and Charm Tong of Burma and, pictured above, the UAE’s Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the first woman to hold a cabinet position in the nation’s history and first female finance minister in the Middle East, were the night’s honorees. “I meet a lot of young women at home who say ‘I want to be like you,’ and I say ‘no, I want you to be better than me,’” Al Qasimi told the press on Monday evening.


Mariane Pearl, author of A Mighty Heart, received her award from U.N Goodwill Ambassador, US Weekly darling, and very pregnant Angelina Jolie, who portrayed Pearl in the big-screen adaptation of her book.  “The antidote to fear is provided by women,” said Pearl, whose husband, Wall Street Journal South Asia Bureau Chief Danny Pearl, was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan. “This award is for the women that have no light shed on them.”


Dodge Thompson, National Gallery of Art Chief of Exhibitions, and Democratic fundraiser Beth Dozoretz. But political affiliations went out the window last night. “We all know this is a fiercely partisan city,” said Vital Voices Co-founder and Chair Melanne Verveer, “but we all come together” on making strides for women around the world.


Congresswoman Jane Harman outside the Terrace Theater. Leading lights on both sides of the aisles were among the 500 strong showing their support. First Lady Laura Bush, Senators Hillary Clinton and Kay Bailey Hutchison, Carly Fiorina, Wolf Blitzer and designer Diane Von Furstenberg presented awards and recognized the honorees.


Journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave and his wife, author and photojournalist Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave.


Former Ambassador to Chile and Vital Voices Board Member Gabriel Guerra-Mondragón with Sonnenschein colleague Gilberto Ocañas.


Laura Bush, a strong advocate for human and women’s rights in Burma, presented the Human Rights Award to Charm Tong, pictured. An activist since her teens, Tong addressed the U.N Commission on Human Rights in 1999. Previously recognized by Time Magazine and Marie Claire, she spoke through tears about the women who have been killed, raped and abused under the Burmese military dictatorship. “The message from the women of Burma is that until or unless there is a political change, women will be vulnerable and atrocities will happen.”

Tong and the other honorees are voices of strength—vital voices—speaking on behalf of the vulnerable. As Senator Clinton stated, these women lead us “toward that brighter future, a future in which the voices of women are heard and their talents and contributions are recognized and respected.”

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