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Fergie, in a bright red, one-shouldered number, teared up when handed her award by friend Kate Hudson _ and paid a touching tribute to her mother. She also didn’t forget to thank her therapist, and closed with the 1970s rallying cry: “We are women, hear us roar!”

One of the most popular lines of the evening, though, came from the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, one of four female heads of state who were introduced by Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In a video presentation about the reasons women are effective leaders, she said, to cheers: “We don’t start wars. We stop them.”

Both Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared via video message, but their daughter, Chelsea, was at the ceremony, introducing 20 young women in the audience with their own accomplishments _ including one who’d designed a spacecraft navigating system.

But not only women were featured. An emotional high point was an appearance by Jake Glaser, son of early AIDS activist Elizabeth Glaser, who received a Glamour award two years before her 1994 death from the disease, which she contracted from a blood transfusion during the birth of her first child. She passed the HIV virus on to both her children, and daughter Ariel died at age 7. Jake, now 26, remains healthy.

“I am proud to live with her legacy,” Jake said of his mother.