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The Virtue Foundation, Avon and Jennifer Hudson at International Women's Day Summit

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Sara James, Dr. Joseph Salim, Jennifer Hudson, Dr. Joan LaRovere

Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson appeared at The Global Summit for a Better Tomorrow at the United Nations on the eve of International Women’s Day, March 8. Hudson, along with CSI: New York’s Melina Kanakaredes, told stories of female role models as part of a two-hour summit aiming to empower women. These women provided welcome celebrity attraction, but the other presenters proved to be the real powerhouses in the room.

Avon Products, Inc. Chairman and CEO Andrea Jung announced the findings of the First Annual Avon Global Women’s Empowerment Index, which surveyed 8,000 women in 16 countries. According to Jung, the index is 64%, meaning that women worldwide are almost two-thirds of the way to “full empowerment.” The event also celebrated the launch of Avon’s Hello Tomorrow Fund, a yearlong initiative awarding $5,000 each week to a U.S. individual seeking to empower women in business, community service or outreach. Hudson presented the first winner; Darlene Morgan Brown, Ph.D., a leader in the New Orleans charter school movement.

A panel led by Dateline NBC‘s Sara James addressed current issues surrounding education, health, and violence against women. And U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Dr. Shashi Tharoor addressed the question, “What is the single most important thing we can do to improve the world?” “Two words,” he said. “Educate girls.”

The applause that followed Dr. Tharoor’s impassioned statement trumped the response to Hudson’s brief and stilted speech. I was psyched to see her at a women’s empowerment event; but after seeing her Oscar acceptance speech and then this, let’s hope she brushes up her public speaking if she really plans on being a spokesperson.

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