Norwegian forward Ada Hegerberg won the inaugural women's Ballon d'Or on Monday.
Hegerberg is a three-time Women's Champions League winner with French side Lyon and scored a tournament-record 15 times last season.
France Football magazine has been awarding the Ballon d'Or since 1956, and created a women's award for the first time this year.
"I want to say thanks to France Football. It's a huge step for women's football," Hegerberg said. "I want to end this speech with a message to all young girls in the world. Believe in yourselves."
The 23-year-old Hegerberg said she won't play for Norway at the Women's World Cup in France next June.
Taking a stand against what she describes as a lack of respect for female players in Norway, she hasn't played for the national team since it crashed out of the group stage of the Women's European Championship in 2017 without scoring a goal.
After collecting her Ballon d'Or, Hegerberg told The Associated Press she has no plans to reconsider her decision taken to preserve her "authenticity and my values, as a person, as a footballer."
"A lot of things need to be done to make the conditions better for women who play football," she said. "It's all about how we respect women's football. I don't think the respect has been there.
"Sometimes you have to take tough decisions to stay true to yourself. I let them know, quite clearly, what I found wasn't working."