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Vital Voices is partnering with Award-Winning Artist Gayle Kabaker to Produce 100 Portraits Celebrating Contemporary Women Redefining Power

November 2019 – Since Vital Voices’ inception more than 20 years ago, we have seen every day, across the 182 countries and territories in which we have worked, that women lead differently. The thousands of women leaders Vital Voices has partnered with have been resolute in their sense of purpose and commitment to making positive change.

Today, in many areas, we are seeing women’s equality regress, and with every new negative headline, we feel a little more powerless and hopeless. But women leaders across the globe, who are not on the front pages of our newspapers or on our televisions, are breaking through. They are approaching problems in radical and new ways, throwing out conventions and traditional notions of how to do things. And they are unapologetically taking up space never held by those who look or lead like them.

These women are bold and daring in their vision, and are blazing new trails to cut through the noise, showing us that real, sustainable and seismic change is possible.

The year 2020 will mark 25 years since the UN Conference on Women in Beijing, the impetus for the creation of Vital Voices, and 100 years since women were granted the right to vote in the United States. At Vital Voices, we are celebrating this momentous year by taking our own daring new steps into our future – demonstrating that a big, bold vision for our future starts with ourselves.

As part of the 2020 Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards, Vital Voices will show our commitment to forging new paths by launching Vital Voices: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower – a first-of-its-kind art exhibition featuring dynamic portraits and first-person narratives of 100 women from around the world who are using their power to empower. The series will include women from across Vital Voices’ powerful network of leaders such as Amanda Gorman, the first U.S. Youth Poet Laureate; Chief Kachindamoto, a chief in Malawi who is working to end child marriage; Lina Khalifeh, founder of SheFighter – the first women’s self-defense studio in the Middle East; Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Officer for William Morris Endeavor; Donna Langley, Chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad; and fashion designer and philanthropist Diane von Furstenberg, among other notable women leaders using their power, platform and voice to empower and give voice to others.

The Vital Voices: 100 Women Using their Power to Empower exhibition will open at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in conjunction with the Kennedy Center’s Direct Current two-week celebration of contemporary culture. DIRECT CURRENT 2020 will honor the milestone centennial of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution by not only shining a light on female artists and their work, but also by collaborating with D.C.-based organizations like Vital Voices.

Each painting in the series is being produced by award-winning illustrator and writer Gayle Kabaker, who lives in Western Massachusetts. She’s been illustrating for various markets worldwide for over 35 years.

Vital Voices knows the power that the arts has to ignite bold thinking and shift seemingly entrenched perspectives around the fight for women’s equality, the under-utilized and undervalued way in which women lead differently. It is our hope that the Vital Voices: 100 Women Using their Power to Empower exhibition creates space for that important conversation to take place. To do so, we will host an accompanying Vital Voices Leadership Dialogues, curating dynamic conversations with figures from around the world on the power of women’s leadership, what we can learn from each other and how we can ignite a global movement to achieve transformational change in the decades to come.

The Vital Voices: 100 Women Using their Power to Empower exhibition will be on display from International Women’s Day (March 8, 2020) through March 21, 2020 in the Hall of Nations at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

If you are interested in sponsoring or hosting the exhibition and accompanying leadership dialogues with the women featured in this series, please contact Jennifer Smith at