You know it’s a Somaly Mam affair when A-list guests like AnnaLynne McCord, Rebecca Minkoff, and Serinda Swan dazzle their designer garb with the foundation’s silk necklaces. These, though, aren’t your typical accessories—they’re coined “empowerment necklaces,” named in honor of the modern-day slavery and sex trafficking survivors that the Somaly Mam Foundation supports.
This year’s Gotham Hall gala raised more than $700,000 for Mam’s mission, including $35,000 donated after McCord’s touching testimonial about her own encounters with sexual assault. McCord got even more candid with GLAM on the red carpet where she, along with Somaly Mam advocates Katie Couric, Petra Nemcova, and more, recounted the last time they most felt empowered.
My friend and I were speaking last night about anti-sex trafficking at UConn, and I met this unbelievably beautiful girl [student Kanika Bahl]. She’s an incredible woman. She’s 17 years old, she’s coming into her own, and she wants to do a lot of amazing things in the world. And I said “If I put you on a train to New York, will you come? Will you meet Somaly? I think you need to meet her.” She was ready and willing to hop on a bus! She got down here at two o’clock and we got ready in the hotel together. Hearing her speak, her insightfulness, and her desire to do a lot of amazing things for her native Punjab—she has some incredible things that she wants to do there with a pre-med degree that she’s going after—I was very empowered by that.
Being here tonight is the most recent [time], because when you can use whatever celebrity or whatever public persona you have attained to promote something that’s so critically important, that may not otherwise get that much attention, I think that’s such a powerful feeling. And that’s how I feel being here tonight.
When I gave birth to my son, I felt empowered as a woman, because that’s a true test of human nature—especially if you do it primitive style, like I did.
Almost everyday—it’s really rare that I don’t feel empowered, for many different reasons. I think empowerment comes from within. Part of it is knowing how lucky I am, and knowing that I have so much that I can do with my mind, with my focus—not sitting on my butt, but doing things. Every person comes with gifts in life, and when you use those gifts, you feel empowered. By using certain opportunities that I have to empower others, that makes me feel empowered.
I have an organization called Friends to Mankind. Three weeks ago, I was in Malaysia, and we found two young girls, who are 16 and 19, who wanted to raise money for The Girl Effect to stop child marriage. They came on our radar and we decided that we wanted to support them. They wanted to do a dance concert, because that’s what they’re good at. We ended up getting Starbucks and more involved, and they raised 100,000 ringgit [roughly $31,761] in one night! All with a bunch of teenagers, to bring awareness for kids that are going through child marriage. I sat there and I was so proud of them and I felt so honored to be a part of that, and so empowered! Using the little spotlight, or the voice that I get through my show or through my industry, if I reflect that light and not absorb that light, there’s so much that I can illuminate in this world. It was really empowering!