NEW YORK — Since launching into fashion in the early Seventies, Diane von Furstenberg has been seeking to promote the empowerment of women.

This story first appeared in the February 10, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Von Furstenberg is now taking her mission a step further with the DVF Awards, an annual ceremony, which aims to recognize women whose leadership skills and vision have had a positive impact on the lives of other women around the world.

The awards were created with the support of The Diller-Von Furstenberg Family Foundation — and von Furstenberg credited her family for inspiring her to establish them.

“My mission in life is to empower women,” the designer and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America said. “I do it through my work, through my mentoring and through philanthropy.

“We have talked about the awards, and my son [Alexandre] really encouraged me to do this,” she added. “He said, ‘It’s something that would be great for you to have. You inspire women.’”

Each honoree will receive $50,000, aimed to help them sustain and expand on their humanitarian efforts.

The first DVF Awards — scheduled to take place at the United Nations on March 13 with a ceremony hosted by the designer and Tina Brown on the closing night of The Daily Beast’s Women in the World Summit — will honor four women. Two hail from the Vital Voices network, an organization that is dear to von Furstenberg: Afghanistan native Sadiqa Basiri Saleem, who cofounded the Oruj Learning Center, which provides education for more than 2,700 girls and 200 women throughout the country’s Wardak province; and Danielle St. Lot, Haiti’s minister of commerce, industry, and tourism whose efforts have resulted in Femmes en Démocratie, an organization that seeks to bring economic opportunities to Haitian women.

The third, “People’s Voice” award will honor an American woman from a group of five nominees picked by a group of advisers. The inaugural nominees are Katherine Chon of Polaris Project; Kirsten Lodal of LIFT; Malika Saada Saar of The Rebecca Project for Human Rights; Stephanie Palmer of the New York City Mission Society, and Catherine Harper Lee of The Justice League of Ohio. The public can vote on the winner through and

A fourth award will honor a public figure and the winner will be unveiled on the night of the awards.

“These women so much need the recognition,” von Furstenberg said. “Anything you can do to give them the light and the recognition and money helps.”

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