RSVP : Celebrating Women on the Inside of History


A chorus of children in multinational costumes sang "It's a Small World" between the speeches at the Noel Foundation awards dinner Friday night--appropriate for the highly diverse crowd in the Beverly Hilton's ballroom.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, fashion designer Hanae Mori, Deputy Dist. Atty. Christopher Darden, Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan, former super-model Iman and local school teacher Kathleen Pingree were just some of the attendees pulled in by the clout and determination of the foundation's founder and president Noel Irwin-Hentschel for "A Celebration of Inspiration and Commitment" honoring seven "remarkable" women.

The Republic of Ireland's president Mary Robinson, South African political activists Adelaide Tambo and Helen Suzman, Argentine immunologist Christiane Dosne Pasqualini and German paralympic athlete Marianne Buggenhagen were present to acknowledge the honors.

Mother Teresa, recipient of the Lifetime Commitment Award, was kept in India by a commitment to witness the induction into her religious order of its first priest. The late Elizabeth Glaser, founder of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, was remembered with the Inspiration Award. The pre-dinner cocktail hour was chaos exacerbated by the security surrounding Robinson, which clashed with everyone's belief that they were important enough to be inside the VIP reception. Robinson's easygoing husband Nicholas, once a cartoonist for the Irish Times, now a lawyer, said he was unsurprised by his wife's success. When they were students together at Trinity College, he recalled, "Mary got the good grades while I sat in the back of the class and doodled."

Each honoree spoke. "Our time is only just opening up," Mary Robinson said. "Women have always been outside history; we need to be brought back into history."

Suzman, remarking, "I'm not polite. I never have been," spoke scathingly of "the evil days of apartheid." Tambo said she was sorry not to be able to share this moment with her late husband Oliver, but pleased to share it with all women who have fought oppression.

Pasqualini, who discovered a serum that slows the progress of leukemia, described herself as just a basic researcher. Buggenhagen accepted her award as an inspiration to other disabled women.

Getting as much attention as the honorees was Marcia Clark, who arrived after dinner to present the award to Buggenhagen. Spontaneous and sustained applause greeted her appearance and photographers swarmed as she and Darden posed side by side.

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