Last night, Glamour hosted their 23rd annual Women of the Year Awards at Carnegie Hall, gathering together a truly inspiring crowd of people that included Hillary Clinton, Gabby Giffords, Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig-Debellis, Barbra Streisand, and Lady Gaga. But the real star of the night was 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who took the stage in a bright orange outfit and delivered a stirring speech about the power of education. “I believe that a gun has no power at all,” she said. “Because a gun can only kill. A pen can give life, a pen can save life.”
Such a lineup would make even the most accomplished person feel like a lazy schlub, but that certainly wasn’t the point, said Glamour editor Cindi Leive. “It’s very easy to sit at these events and see these amazing overachievers onstage and think, ‘They’re incredible, they’re amazing, they’re extraordinary, and that could never be me.’ [But[ I think the message of tonight is that a lot of these women were regular women who pushed themselves. We all probably have it in ourselves to do that. Every woman has a little bit of that power.”
Does she ever need a similar pep talk? “Like a lot of women, I hate that ‘Having it all, doing it all’ phrase,” Leive said. “Whenever anybody asks you ‘How do you do it all?’ you just feel like a big impostor because all you can think about are the 572 things you’re not doing at that moment. All you can do is puncture that thinking. I also think there are incredibly high standards for women now. They feel like they have to occupy the corner office and have a perfect body and have an incredibly hot love life. I just think those super high standards actually make women feel like failures.”
And of course, she totally wants to put Yousafzai on the cover. “I would love to have Malala on the cover someday. 100 percent. My proudest cover was when we had Michelle Obama on the cover in 2009,” she said. “I think those kinds of dialogues about women’s magazines and standards of beauty are totally healthy and productive, and I welcome them. They make all of us stronger.”
Click through our slideshow to see 2013’s women of the year, plus more of last night’s attendees.