Vital Voices honored François-Henri Pinault, David Miliband, Darren Walker, Cody McDavis and José Guadalupe Ruelas García at Seventh Annual Voices of Solidarity
Co-Hosts Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller welcomed special guests and speakers including Sally Field, Bozoma Saint John, Gloria Steinem, Kate James and more to honor men who advocate on behalf of women and girls around the world
DECEMBER 9, 2019 – NEW YORK, NY – On Monday, December 9, Vital Voices Global Partnership joined co-hosts Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller for the annual Voices of Solidarity event, a special evening dedicated to recognizing male allies in fight to end the global scourge of gender-based violence. The 2019 Solidarity Honorees, all inspiring advocates on behalf of women and girls around the world, included:
The Honorees were each presented with awards and remarks by special guests including activist Gloria Steinem; actress and activist Sally Field; Endeavor Chief Marketing Officer Bozoma Saint John; Vital Voices Board Chair Kate James; and designer, activist and philanthropist Diane von Furstenberg, among others.
“The only way we can end violence against women is by overcoming prejudice, sexism and misogyny. And we can’t do that without a broad and holistic approach — beyond partnering with phenomenal male allies, we need to make the circle bigger,” said Vital Voices President and CEO Alyse Nelson, who opened the event. “What it comes down to is collective action, and an understanding that changing laws won’t ever be enough — we need to change our ideas about girls and boys, men and women.”
The crowded room at the IAC Building in New York, NY heard powerful words from each of this year’s Honorees – each calling for urgent action to stamp out the root causes of gender-based violence, and remarking upon the people who have inspired them and their commitment to creating a gender equal future.
“Gender-based violence is so universal, so extreme, and so devastating that we must call it what it really is: an emergency. There are still far too many victims, still far too much impunity and apathy. Individually, we sound the alarm, but, truly, that is not enough,” said Kering Chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault in a powerful appeal for all to act more boldly in changing a culture that accepts gender-based violence. “Progress comes at the cost of countless voices — they are neglected, silenced, even threatened — but eventually their chorus becomes louder, so loud it cannot be ignored. We have not yet reached that critical mass of male voices who speak against violence, so it must become our urgent priority.”
“I am honored to accept this award, with humility and gratitude, on behalf of the 13,000 IRC staff and 15,000 volunteers working in more than 40 countries who fight every day for gender equality and women’s empowerment,” said International Rescue Committee President and CEO David Miliband. “It is their work providing life-saving and life-changing aid to women and girls whose lives have been shattered by conflict and disaster who have earned this honor and in whose name I speak tonight. When inequalities of power produce inequalities of outcome, we need to understand and address the causes not just treat the symptoms.”
“The women who are doing this incredible work are told, and told, and told ‘we want to hear your voice,’ but when you start talking, you get shoved down, and I cannot stand that,” said Foundation 42 President and Founder Cody McDavis, in an emotional tribute to the inspiring women in his life. “I am able to accept this award because of the women that are here with me tonight. They are my heroes.”
“Women and organizations like this are doing something transformational in this world,” said Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. “And that is to demand that we address the root cause of so much that is wrong with this world – and that is patriarchy.”
“When we talk about violence against women, we must be aware that this violence starts when they are just girls,” said José Guadalupe Ruelas García, National Director of Casa Alianza in Honduras. “It is urgent to recognize that violence against women starts from childhood and that, if we want this world to be fair and equitable, we must also start early to eradicate gender violence in all its forms. We must acknowledge that we are not their saviors, we should be their allies.”
Vital Voices created the annual Voices of Solidarity event to recognize the men who are allies in the fight against gender-based violence. Solidarity Honorees are chosen in part by the Vital Voices Solidarity Council, a unique endeavor bringing together men working to end gender-based violence to build a platform highlighting and furthering efforts to protect and defend fundamental human rights. The Council primarily focuses on human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual violence and harmful practices, and engaging boys and men in meaningful conversations about masculinity.