A group of leading ladies in fields ranging from finance to film to fashion and media and beyond converged at Cipriani 42nd Street Wednesday night for the Important Dinner for Women, an annual event that helps raise awareness for women’s issues around the world.

Among the attendees were Nicole Kidman, Diane von Furstenberg, Naomi Watts, Martha Stewart, Naomi Campbell, Donna Karan and Vera Wang. As has been the yearly tradition for the evening, no men were seated for dinner, which meant that even Rupert Murdoch made an early exit, despite the fact that his wife, Wendi, was a co-host. “There have never been men dining there,” explained an organizer. “He left after Wendi spoke.”

This year, the issue on the table was maternal mortality, and many of the crowd’s best-known women had personal stories to tell, eagerly pointing out that, had they not been residing in the West, they might have died during childbirth. “My second child was a breach birth,” said Sarah Ferguson, who showed up in flat shoes and whose only request for privacy was that photographers shoot her from the waist up. “My sister had stillborn babies and my mother lost another sister of mine at birth. So it’s in me to fight for mothers to have the same rights I had.”

Christy Turlington also hit a snag in the delivery room. “I had a complication and learned,” she said.

Naomi Campbell hasn’t yet had a child, but she professed to being equally committed to the cause. She met one of the evening’s other co-hosts, Sarah Brown, at 10 Downing Street while doing a charity fashion event on behalf of the safe motherhood organization The White Ribbon Alliance. Since then, she’s been a fierce supporter of the cause. “They made me an ambassador in April of this year,” she said proudly. “We’ll be going to Tanzania later this year. And I’m auctioning all of my Hermès bags in November — the proceeds will go towards White Ribbon Alliance.”

Needless to say, the decision to dispense with the best of her handbag collection was not an easy one for the longtime fashion plate. “There was one Carla Bruni gave me years ago,” she said, shaking her head with mock despondence before explaining that she first got close to the French first lady in the late Eighties when they were both runway models. “It was my very first first Hermès bag. But I know she’ll be happy. She’s a member of the Alliance, too.”

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