Bloomberg News

Clinton, von Furstenberg, Bidens Plug Leaders: D.C. Scene

April 03, 2013

Vital Voices

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg. Photographer: Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

“We’re Ready. Hillary. 2016,” read the signs supporters waved outside the Kennedy Center last night.

Making her first public appearance since leaving the Department of State, Hillary Clinton received a standing ovation when she took the stage in the opera house for the 12th Annual Global Leadership Awards of the Vital Voices Global Partnership. The awards honor those helping girls and women in their communities.

Looking refreshed in a white jacket, Clinton repeated the words she made famous in Beijing in 1995: “Women’s rights are human rights.”

She presented a special tribute to her chief of staff as first lady, Melanne Verveer, the former U.S. ambassador for global women’s issues and a co-founder and chairman emeritus of Vital Voices.

Clinton was introduced by Diane von Furstenberg, sporting a snazzy sling on an arm she said she injured in a “ski adventure.”

Vice President Joe Biden gave the Solidarity Award to Ravi, Rishi and Nishi Kant, brothers who are fighting sexual abuse and human trafficking in their native India.

Biden said he believed the “ultimate abuse of power is when a man raises his hand to a woman or child.”

The vice president and his sister and “best friend,” Valerie Biden, made a brief appearance at the event’s supper buffet where the predominantly female crowd ate pasta and salad.

Bake Sale

Verveer was swarmed by a group of young women from the Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School who raised $200 at a bake sale for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was nearly killed by the Taliban for fighting for the right to go to school.

Hawa Abdi received the Fern Holland Award for her work as a gynecologist in Somalia and signed copies of her book, “Keeping Hope Alive: One Woman -- 90,000 Lives Changed.”

Sandra Gomes Melo, who works with victims of domestic violence in Brazil, received the Human Rights Award. Actress America Ferrera gave Cambodian Tep Vanny the Leadership in Public Life Award. Manal Yaish Zraiq from Palestine got the Economic Empowerment Award.

Event co-chairwoman Debbie Dingell, the president of D2 Strategies, caught up with Kathleen Matthews, executive vice president and chief global communications and public-affairs officer for Marriott International (MAR) Inc. Amanda Downes, the British Embassy’s social secretary, took a rare night off from entertaining.

“I’m playing hooky. This is too important,” Downes said.

Other guests included news presenter Ann Curry, Christine Warnke, senior governmental-affairs adviser for Hogan Lovells, and Julie Smolyansky, chief executive of Lifeway Foods Inc. (LWAY)

(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater, Alec McCabe on books.

To contact the writer on this story: Stephanie Green in Washington at sgreen57@bloomberg.net or on Twitter @stephlgreen.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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