At the U.N. Women for Peace Association awards in Manhattan on a snowy Friday, women were recognized for aiming to improve and protect the lives of women and girls around the world.
Before honoring U.N. women’s executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, president of the U.N. General H.E. Peter Thomson praised all winners for their commitment and empowerment of women and girls. “Your hard work, your collaborative spirit and your determination to succeed will continue to be inspiring as we continue to realize a world without violence.”
On behalf of First Lady Melania Trump, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff reiterated her “firm belief about the importance of education as the driver in empowering women and children. For her, education is the great equalizer.” Wolkoff also spoke of FLOTUS’ concern about bullying and cyberbullying, adding, “Together with the U.N. Peace Association for Women, we can educate and reinforce the importance of tolerance in a society filled with inclusiveness, regardless of race, gender and culture.”
U.N. Women for Peace Association’s chair Muna Rihani Al-Nasser, joined by president Barbara Winston, said this year’s project is an apolitical nonreligious vocational school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon that will educate 140 girls from the ages of 14 to 18. As the first school of what is being planned as an international project, Al-Nasser emphasized how girls can be subject to sex trafficking, recruited by ISIS or just on the street “just doing nothing,” adding that in the U.S., there are 328,000 victims of rape or sexual assault.
Cate Blanchett awarded Deborra-Lee Furness the leadership award. Husband Hugh Jackman caught her acceptance speech via Skype. Philanthropy award-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda sent his thanks via a selfie video, and his mother, Luz-Towns Miranda, acted as his understudy. Loreen Arbus picked up the Achievement award from “Good Day Wake Up” co-anchor Teresa Priolo.
Debra Messing, Ronald Lauder, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Gabriela Hearst, Mary McFadden, Nancy Brinker and Martha Stewart and Carey Lowell also showed support.
Blanchett told attendees, “I think of myself as a person who is quite aware, but some of the stories we’ve heard today I can’t believe.”
Dayle Haddon, humanitarian award winner for her efforts through WomenOne, noted that women represent more half of the world’s population and 50 percent of them have experienced some form of violence.
Media talent Loreen Arbus picked up the achievement award from “Good Day Wake Up” co-anchor Teresa Priolo.
Before receiving this year’s peace award, Not for Sale nonprofit founder David Batstone, who also has eight companies, said, “We want to create stable economies so that people won’t have to be faced with desperate choices. Every product has to be consistent. It has to be good for you and good for the world — high quality and high health.”
Before the program started, Messing mentioned her upcoming “Will & Grace” comeback. “There’s such a plethora of incredible quality television, but a lot of it is really dark. Television in its heyday was uplifting and light…it was a happy refuge from life. I think people are hungry for that — that kind of reliable escape.”