Equality Now hosted their annual Make Equality Reality Gala this week at Gotham Hall in New York City.
The evening marked the organization’s 25th Anniversary and honored Gucci America President and CEO Susan Chokachi and A Breeze of Hope Foundation Founder Brisa De Angulo. The 2017 gala was Equality Now’s most successful ever and it raised more than $825,000 . It brought together a diverse and dynamic group of change makers, activists, celebrities and philanthropists to celebrate women who are committed to making the world a better place for women and girls. The event was underwritten by Vanguard of Change sponsor, InMaat Foundation.
Creative Director Joss Whedon curated the evening’s program which tackled issues of gender equality, sexual violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex trafficking. The program featured performances by: Amir Arison, Nazanin Boniadi, Vinie Burrows, Amy Carlson, Nisha Ganatra, Ana Gasteyer, Lauren Mayberry, Jennifer Morrison, Adepero Oduye, Dascha Polanco, Alysia Reiner, AnnaSophia Robb, Sheetal Sheth and the Vicious Psi Steppers. Haim took the stage to perform songs from their recently released sophomore album, they closed the evening with a cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” The 2017 Make Equality Reality Gala Co-Chairs were Gloria Steinem, Tara Lynda Guber, Susan Hassan, Chandra Jessee (InMaat Foundation), Karen Lehner, and Sue Smalley, PhD.
“At a time when the rights of girls and women are still threatened all around the world, our support is needed now more than ever. After 25 years, Equality Now continues to lead the way in the fight for gender equality. Cases are being heard, laws are being changed, and issues affecting women and girls are being pushed to the top of policy agendas, due to Equality Now’s fearless efforts. On behalf of Gucci and CHIME FOR CHANGE, I am honored to join them in the ongoing fight for gender equality and for the future of millions of girls and women,” said Susan Chokachi.
“Our work in Bolivia is part of a global movement that is fighting to end sexual violence. Having support from international organisations like Equality Now is absolutely crucial. It is very hard to bring about change as an isolated entity but when people around the world come together we can add more pressure on governments to protect women and girls,” said Brisa De Angulo.
“Equality Now is proud to have been part of the global women’s rights movement for 25 years and counting. Systemic change is driven from within communities and we partner and work with activists from all walks of life. We were thrilled to recognize Gucci’s Susan Chokachi and A Breeze of Hope Foundation’s Brisa de Angulo for their contributions to gender equality and to ending violence violence against women and girls. Equality Now is honored to work with such powerful and compassionate women,” said Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director of Equality Now.
The event was generously supported by Catalyst of Change Sponsor, Gucci, and Changemakers, Tara Guber, Susie Hassan, Holt Renfrew, Karen Lehner, Neiman Marcus Group, Saks Fifth Avenue, Stardust Foundation and Sue Smalley & Kevin Wall.
Susan joined Gucci in 1998, and has spent nearly 20 years representing the company in various leadership roles in North America. Over the course of her career at Gucci, she has helped lead many of the company’s global philanthropic initiatives, including long-term partnerships with UNICEF, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and The Film Foundation. Susan also helped launch the company’s CHIME FOR CHANGE campaign, founded by Gucci in 2013 to convene, unite and strengthen the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world. The campaign uses innovative approaches to promote gender equality. Co-founded by Beyonce and Salma Hayek Pinault, the campaign works with a coalition of partner organizations, including Global Citizen, the Kering Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Facebook and Hearst Magazines. Since 2013, through CHIME FOR CHANGE, Susan has worked closely with Equality Now and Global Executive Director Yasmeen Hassan, who also serves on the CHIME FOR CHANGE Advisory Board.
Brisa is a leading campaigner against child and adolescent sexual abuse in Bolivia and was motivated to help others by her own experience of sexual assault when she was a teenager. Brisa grew up with her family in Cochabamba, Bolivia where as a teenager, she was raped repeatedly by an older cousin. When she finally reported the sexual assault, she faced intimidation and blame from the Bolivian authorities, as well as from her community and extended family. In 2004, Brisa started A Breeze of Hope (Fundacion Una Brisa De Esperanza), a charity that supports sexually abused children in Bolivia. Bolivia has one of the highest rates of sexual violence against women and children in South America, but one of the lowest reporting rates. It was the first organization in the country to provide social workers, therapists, and lawyers, all free of charge for children who are sexual abuse victims. In 2014, she partnered with Equality Now to address the alarming rates of child sexual abuse and incest in Bolivia and gaps in the law that allow it to continue – and to finally bring her own abuser to justice.
Equality Now is dedicated to using the law to create a more just world for women and girls. Their international network of lawyers, activists, and supporters hold governments responsible for ending legal inequality, sex trafficking, sexual violence and harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and “child marriage.”