From One to Three Million
From One to Three Million
“When we started Women for Women we didn’t know the impact our actions would have. We just believed we could make a difference for one person, and that was enough to try,” reflected co-founder Amjad Atallah at this year’s 2014 Annual Gala in New York.
Kicking off the celebratory evening for more than 400 supporters and guests gathered at the iconic American Museum of Natural History, Atallah shared the story of the organization’s growth.
“Well, that ‘one person’ soon became seventeen, then one hundred, then one thousand. Tonight, the hope that inspired us has touched the lives of nearly three million women survivors of war, their families, and supporters like you,” shared Atallah.
Standing in front of a gallery montage of women working together, Atallah welcomed the country directors from Nigeria, Rwanda, Bosnia, South Sudan and Kosovo and introduced supporters to Jennifer L. Windsor, Women for Women International’s newly-appointed CEO. “I am confident and excited about the future with Jennifer’s leadership.”
The evening was a night to celebrate the road ahead as well as the progress that has been achieved.
The Grammy Award-winning Angélique Kidjo delivered a powerful performance blending her unique energy with the rhythms and sounds of her native Benin. In a lively call and response, Kidjo engaged the audience, calling all to lift their voices to celebrate the women who are at the heart of our work.
Throughout the night the focus returned to the women graduates and their journey.
The host of the evening, CNN Anchor and Correspondent Isha Sesay, reminded all of the critical challenges women and girls face in the world today, while remembering their strength and courage to transform their lives.
“Each of these women refuses to let terror and violence get in the way of their dreams,” Sesay reminded. “They believe in the simple idea that education, equality, and human dignity belong to us all. And nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
This message was echoed in the presentation of awards. This year Women for Women International honored two remarkable women who dedicated their lives to service after the Bosnian War.
Sabiha Husić received the 2014 Woman of the World Award for her groundbreaking work to support survivors of gender-based violence and challenge the culture of impunity that allows perpetrators to go unpunished.
In a special pre-recorded video message, global humanitarian Angelina Jolie celebrated Sabiha and underscored the import of her work and advocacy to end sexual violence in conflict.
Seida Saric was honored with the 2014 Excellence in Leadership Award for her two decades of exceptional service as the first and longest serving country director. A pioneer, Seida emerged from the war emboldened to help women heal and rebuild.
During her emotional acceptance, Seida shared lessons that informed the development of the signature 12-month training program that today reaches women across the globe.
In presenting both awards, Amjad Atallah celebrated the power and influence of each woman. He also shared the special role Bosnia has in the organization’s history, as it was the impetus for the founding.
Extending Reach with Partners
Referencing this growth, Board Member Jan Rock Zubrow reminded all that it, “would not have been possible without the support of individuals and institutional partners.”
Zubrow presented the 2014 Active Citizen Award to Hyatt Hotels Vice President of Corporate Responsibility Brigitta Witt. During the gala, Witt announced a new four-year partnership to help support the training of 60,000 women.
“We are passionate about WfWI’s mission because it gets to the heart of what Hyatt is all about. We believe that education and opportunity are critical to thriving communities. We believe that empowering and championing women is crucial to the long-term success of companies, and we believe that caring and investing in our colleagues and their communities will make all the difference - for their future and ours.”
The Season for Giving
Under the leadership of Gala Co-Chairs and WfWI Board Members, Christine Fisher and Amy Towers, the Annual Gala was fully underwritten. Additional major supporters included: Deborah Harmon and Dr. Robert Seder, Sharon Davis Design, Ann Marie Etergino, RBC Wealth Management, Sandy and Ed Meyer, Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg, Mary Menell Zients, and Jan Rock Zubrow and Barry Zubrow.
To learn more on ways to give this holiday season, visit our Gifts that Give Back catalog