Last night The DVF Awards proved yet again to be a rousing call to arms.
As guests streamed into the United Nations on a cold April night, just catching the last moments of a glorious sunset reflecting off the Long Island City skyline, a sense pervaded that the night would set a new inspirational benchmark. With Tina Brown and Diane herself setting the tone—exhorting everyone to use their voices to speak for those who do not have a voice—presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton took to the stage to present her frequent collaborator and friend Ambassador Melanne Verveer with the Lifetime Leadership Award. If Hillary’s disarming and powerful speech was a sign of what is to come, the room was fully on board. A standing ovation began and didn’t cease until every honoree had spoken.
Naomi Campbell, resplendent in gossamer lace, took to the stage to present the first International Award to Adimaimalaga Tafuna’i who has worked tirelessly on behalf of Samoan families by connecting their locally specialized work to the global market. Maggie Gyllenhaal, evidently emboldened by her company, took her shoes off to introduce the second International Award winner, Pakistani documentary filmmaker and human rights activist Samar Minallah Khan, highlighting her role in outlawing swara, or compensation marriages, in her home country. Samar urged the crowd to rethink the notion of honor—indeed the very warped notion of honor that exists in many communities—and encouraged the women in the room to “bring those men who are brave enough to cry… to speak up for women along on our journey,” which served as a reminder that support of individuals doing hard work in the face of opposition should always defy gender.
Moments later, Dakota Fanning, firm of handshake and earnest of intention, took to the stage to announce the winner of this year’s People’s Voice Award vote, The Adventure Project, and give a thoughtful introduction to co-founder Becky Straw. “Aid is always appreciated, but a job has the power to change someone’s life forever,” Straw said, explaining what the award grant would do for her organization, which funds jobs in developing countries.
Finally, Diane returned to the stage to give Gabby Giffords the roundly deserved Inspiration Award for being a beacon of grace, determination and empowerment since the fateful events of January 8, 2011. When Gabby, recently wheelchaired by a bike accident, mounted the stage, the crowd erupted in emotional cheers. Her speech, short and sweet, can be summarized with these words: “We must never stop fighting. Fight! Fight! Fight!”
Learn more about The DVF Awards.