Diane Von Furstenberg Dinner and Awards Ceremony

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United Nations Headquarters
New York City
March 11, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ve been given lots of awards, and I cannot think of one that means more to me or has greater personal delight for me than this one named on behalf of Diane, a dear friend and also an inspiration, and presented by my daughter.

So thank you all very much, starting with Diane, who has offered her elegant voice and extraordinary passion to support the cause of women’s leadership and empowerment. And with her work on behalf of Vital Voices, which she has embraced so wholeheartedly, she is helping to awaken the potential of so many women around the world who, through her belief in them and her work on their behalf, can themselves feel empowered and help move our whole world toward its potential.

And I want to thank Tina again, who has really taken to heart the idea of how we, coming together, can learn from each other, support each other, and find the strength to do whatever we have to do or whatever we have to face in our own lives. I told Chelsea that it is incredibly humbling for me and the work that I’ve been privileged to do over a lot of years that never, ever am I lacking in amazement and admiration for the women that I meet from around the world. Dr. Hawa Abdi, who we heard from earlier at the Hudson Theater, and now the women that you will meet in a few minutes, who are going to take you and just embrace you with their enthusiasm and their incredible compassion and commitment.

I think that each one of us can do in our own way what Diane and Tina and so many of you whom I know so well are doing. And in the spring collections this year, for example, Diane’s featured this fabulous Kenyan jewelry that are made by the women of Umoja village, which was founded by women who had been forced from their homes by abuse. And selling those necklaces helped them survive a terrible drought.

That’s just one way that each of us can be inspired to think about how we in our own businesses, our own lives, our own philanthropic or faith activities, can make a difference.

I want to salute all the other awardees, starting with Elizabeth Smart, who has demonstrated enormous courage in speaking out about child abduction. I want to thank Sohini Chakraborty for the inspired work she’s done using dance as a way to help Indian girls who’ve been sexually abused find themselves again, heal their bodies and their spirits. I want to thank Taryn Davis for helping to heal the souls of women who have lost their husbands serving on behalf of the United States military. And I want to thank Kakenya Ntaiya, who believes, as I do, that every girl and every boy deserves an excellent education.

And finally, I want to thank the press for being here, because these are really important stories. And they’re not ones that are usually told. They don’t grab the headlines except in unusual circumstances. But this is some of the most important work being done anywhere in the world: empowering women to stand up for themselves and their families and claim their voices and their votes.

And I am very grateful to be playing a small role in this and I thank you. I thank you for continuing to highlight these stories.

PRN: 2011/378