UNITED NATIONS – Latin pop star Shakira and Czech supermodel Karolina Kurkova received awards Monday for their humanitarian work and then watched a fashion show featuring clothes partly made by women trying to escape poverty in developing countries.
More than 400 fans and fashionistas joined VIP guests for the two events and a panel on Poverty, Women and Human Rights. It focused on the success of microcredit loans, which hundreds of millions of women have used to start businesses, and the need to help the 1 billion people who still live on $1 a day or less.
"Let's not forget at the end of this day when we all go home, 960 children will have died in Latin America," Shakira said after accepting her award for starting a charitable foundation, Barefoot, to help children in her native Colombia escape violence.
"As part of a generation that has so many ideas and technologies and things that my parents' generation didn't have access to ... let's take advantage of this historical opportunity we have within reach to make this world a better place," the five-time Grammy award winner said.
The 21-year-old Kurkova was honored for working for the welfare of children through organizations such as "The Beautiful Life Fund" and "Free Arts."
Other winners who showed up to accept their awards — a Spanish contemporary sculpture — included Ela Bhatt, founder of the SEWA Cooperative Bank in India which has provided microcredit loans to 800,000 women; former Spanish Red Cross president Cristina Macaya; Brazilian writer Nelida Pinon; and Consuelo Ciscar, who has promoted cultural and arts programs in Valencia, Spain.
There was disappointment in the crowd that several famous winners sent representatives to collect their awards — including actress Angelina Jolie, Queen Rania of Jordan, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and Kerry Kennedy, who founded a human rights center named after her late father, Robert F. Kennedy.
The two institutions to receive awards were the Washington-based nonprofit, Finca International, which promotes microfinance, and the Spain's Porcelanosa Group, one of the world's leading tile and bathroom and kitchen manufacturers.
The nonprofit organization Women Together, which is currently concentrating on providing small loans so low income women can produce textiles, sponsored the awards and the fashion show. The high-fashion clothes on display were made in part by women from Colombia, Panama, India, Uruguay, Bangladesh, Mexico, Morocco, Peru and Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.