But of all the prominent women who appeared on stage at the Glamour Women of the Year awards in New York, nobody received more acclaim and adoration than a teenager who was unheard of little more than a year ago — 16-year-old Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai.
“We love you, Malala” shouted a group of young girls from a high balcony in Carnegie Hall, where the annual event was held. The teenager blew back a kiss, and proceeded to give an impassioned speech.
“I believe the gun has no power at all,” said Malala, who caught the world’s attention when the Taliban shot her in the head in Oct 2012 for criticising the group’s interpretation of Islam, which limits girls’ access to education. She has since gained global prominence, has started The Malala Fund to support education for girls, and recently released a memoir, I Am Malala.
“I believe the gun has no power because a gun can only kill,” she said. “But a pen can give life.”
It was not just the crowd that was taken with Malala — her fellow winners referred to her often as they took the stage, and the night’s most flamboyant, Lady Gaga, said she wished this month’s Glamour magazine cover, which features her, had been devoted to Malala instead.
“If I could forfeit my Glamour cover I would give it to Malala,” she said.
At the Glamour Women Of The Year Awards, Lady Gaga said she wished Malala could take her place on the magazine cover http://t.co/pb1m3d1P7p— Jezebel (@Jezebel) November 12, 2013
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Barbra Streisand, who told the audience she had been lucky enough to be born with a good singing voice.
“That voice ultimately allowed me to speak out and have my opinions heard,” said the 71-year-old, who proceeded to forcefully air many of them — including her choice for the next US president.
“There’s never been a woman president,” she said, “but I hope that will change very soon — hint, hint. And we really need her now.”
She was referring to Hillary Clinton, who surprised the crowd by appearing to present the Couple of the Year Award to former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly.
After the ceremony, the honorees, presenters, and guests attended a private dinner in the Plaza Hotel.
It was a scene of fascinating combinations. Lady Gaga approached Malala, for example, and the pair took photos together. “Never be afraid to speak your mind,” the pop singer told the activist — who is famous for doing just that. “I can’t wait until my fans hear your story,” she added.