|Welcome and Remarks by Kati Marton, 2007 Gala Emcee & IWHC Board Chair|
Invest in Women. Invest in the World.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I'm delighted to welcome so many new and old friends to celebrate the Coalition and two of our most admired and beloved men.
Tonight we honor two real heroes—Jan Egeland and Allan Rosenfield. Indeed, Mayor Bloomberg has declared today "International Women's Health Coalition Day," and praised Jan and Allan for "advancing the health and human rights of people everywhere and building a better world for us all."
I want to thank each and every one of you as well for helping us to exceed all of our prior records in going well past $1 million. We would also like to thank our farsighted corporate sponsors. These are corporations that understand that when you invest in women, you invest in the world. The De Beers Group deserves special recognition from us. They are our first ever Gala underwriter. In particular, we thank Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer for lending his very personal support to our cause. Richard and I have made a number of trips to South Africa and each time we have been deeply impressed by the civic responsibility of the De Beers Group towards its employees in the terrible global fight against HIV. You will hear more about De Beers' important work and their commitment to women and girls later in the program.
First, if I may, as I'm beginning my fifth and final year as Chair, I just want to say a couple of words about why I am so proud to be associated with this Coalition and to have served as Chair these five years.
Quite simply, the Coalition sets out to find brave, savvy women working to improve their own communities—women who are almost always overlooked by the big world institutions. We listen to their needs and we try to give them all the support that we can-funding and technical expertise.
I am often asked by my friends, "What exactly does IWHC do?" Well, let me just list a few things that we do.
As part of our work we empower young women in Pakistan. We try to improve communications among married couples in Nigeria. We train midwives in Brazil—where I recently made a field trip with the Coalition. And I have seen both in Brazil and India, where I have also been, the true partnership that we form with women leaders in the field.
But our work isn't over when we get home, not at all. When we get home, whether it's to Washington or New York, we raise our voices for these women in the halls of Congress, at the World Bank, and in the United Nations.
Tonight, our partner, Monica Carrillo, has reminded you and reminded us of what IWHC is all about. Finding the Mónicas of the world, encouraging them, nurturing them, and then letting them fly. That is really at the core of our program.
I realized that this fall when I traveled to a very remote corner of Brazil with Kate Bourne and Denise Hirao. We were part of a program teaching midwives in a section of Brazil where there are no doctors. What I will always remember about that day, in this remote little village, was the joy of working and being with women from such a different world and feeling like we really were partners-and that we really could make a difference together.
Once a few decades ago we asked our parents, "What did you do in the war?" Well, our children will be asking us, "What did you do during the HIV pandemic? What did you do when half a million women were needlessly dying in childbirth? What did you do to fight against rape as a routine weapon of war?"
Well, you have heard Mónica's answer to those questions. We know that there are Mónicas all over the world that we are yet to find. Women leaders who just simply refuse to accept that this is the way things must be.
The Coalition's role for over two decades now has been to find and invest in these young women. As the problems before us grow, our response to these overwhelming problems also has to grow. We can't do it without your support—I really feel that support tonight, and I'm just deeply grateful.
But in addition to this wonderful evening, we're doing something that we've never done before at IWHC. We're launching our first ever Annual Fund campaign to raise a million dollars and we set ourselves a very definite deadline: by March 8th, which is International Women's Day, we hope to reach $300,000 of that million dollars. We hope that day, at an event we are co-sponsoring with our friend Glamour magazine, we will have something to celebrate. Of course, we can't do it without your help.
So thank you so much for being here, for being with us to share in a cause, which I know all of you already share in. I thank you and God bless. Good night.