When actress Meryl Streep stood up and read the words of Zarcquona, an Afghan woman, at the Women in the World Foundation gala launch in New York City, she embodied everything that Daily Beast and Newsweek editor-in-chief, Tina Brown, must have hoped for in creating the Foundation.

Streep changed her voice and posture to channel Zarcquona, moving the audience with the story of the young woman's suicide attempt.  After being married off as a 6-year-old child to her 9-year-old cousin, she began her journey to become an entrepreneur, thanks to Women for Women International, one of the Foundation’s partners. Now Zarcquona has a daughter who she hopes will graduate from high school - and a slew of employees who depend on her to feed their families. By the end, the audience was both laughing and crying as Streep, still speaking for Zarcquona, said she hoped the war in Afghanistan would end soon so she could continue to grow her business.

The Women in the World Foundation grew out of Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s much-loved Women in the World summit, launched by Tina Brown in March 2010. The summit brought global women leaders and advocates together to find solutions to the challenges facing women and girls and highlighted the plight of ordinary women who faced extraordinary challenges. After receiving a number of requests to get involved and “be part of the solution,” Brown decided to launch the Foundation to bring about solutions for women and girls, convene important women leaders, provide strategic grants to non-profit organizations and foster collaboration between organizations.

Women like Leymah Gbowee, who helped end Liberia’s 14-year civil war by organizing a protest and barricading the door until the male leaders came to a peace agreement, are the lifeblood of the new Foundation, headed by Kim Azzarelli.

A TV interview with Gbowee was shown at the gala in which she told the audience how she stood up to the “dumb fools” who threatened to destroy the future of Liberia. Gbowee and a group of grassroots women activists known as the Liberia Mass Action for Peace gathered for two years on a soccer field in Monrovia, and even went so far as to institute a sex strike, until the war ended. Gbowee has recently published a memoir about her experience, Mighty Be Our Powers.

“We really just got angry,” said Gbowee. “(We learned that) you die anyway. You die sitting down. So let’s die trying. And when we stepped out, fortunately we didn’t die—we changed the course of history.”

"So many of you said, 'How can we help? How ca we stay engaged?'" Tina Brown told the standing-room only crowd. "The Women in the World Foundation was created to provide an answer."