For more than 40 years, fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg has been a champion of women, helping to define a new independent femininity through her clothes and lifestyle.
The designer who brings women "confidence, not clothes," is now bringing International Women's Day to the United States, in partnership with Vital Voices, a global women's organization.
"The older I get, the more impressed I am with women. I have yet to meet a woman who is not strong. They don't exist," she told Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America today.
The designer says she owes her strength and confidence to her mother, who survived the Holocaust.
"She went to the concentration camp at age 20. She came back at age 22 and she weighed 49 pounds. She was a miracle. She wasn't supposed to be alive. She wasn't supposed to have a child, and I was born 18 months later."
"My mother never, ever, told me about evilness. She only saw the beautiful things … she wanted to protect me from it."
"The one thing she always said is 'fear is not an option.' If I was afraid of the dark, she would lock me in a closet. It may not be politically correct, but after an hour in the closet, I realized there's no reason to be afraid of the dark," Von Furstenberg said.
Inspired by her mother, Von Furstenberg is now working to bring attention to women's rights abuses around the world with Vital Voices. "When I first encountered this organization [Vital Voices], I said, 'this is it.' I finally found the organization that believes in what I believe, and not in the not in the condescending way, not in a patronizing way, not in a judging way, but really equal …They equip women, give them strength and support."
In her new role, Von Furstenberg is hosting a documentary-style play based on the true stories of seven different women, from seven different countries, whose strength helped them survive and escape their own desperate lives.
"These are real women … growing up in countries where no one encourages them to dream," she said.
One of the most poignant was of a Pakistani woman who wins $8,000 to build a school. "She was completely illiterate. She was raped by quite a few people in the village, thrown through the village naked. She was humiliated in the most unbelievable way. Instead of eating that humiliation, she decided to rebel. She actually sued the village, and she made some money, and she decided to build a school, something that she had never gone to," Von Furstenberg recounted.
"These women impressed me so much, and every time I listen to a story like that, I just think to myself, I'm so lucky to be a woman."
Von Furstenberg said she also felt that way watching GMA Anchor Robin Roberts walk Isaac Mizrahi's catwalk bald, last month during the anchors "I Dare You."
"When I saw Robin in the fashion show … I was in awe. She's so beautiful, so strong, such a role model and made me so proud to be a woman."
This Saturday is International Women's Day, and in its honor Von Furstenberg will be donating 10 percent of worldwide sales from March 2-8 to Vital Voices.