Mary Therese Winifred Robinson (1944 – )

Mary Therese Winifred Robinson (1944-) born in Ballina, Ireland, is one of the most respected and beloved public figures in the island as she devoted her life to public policy and to the defence of human rights. Elected in 1990, Mary Robinson became the first female President of Ireland, bringing a breath of fresh air to a previously conservative political environment. She started her political career as an independent and campaigned for women’s right, most specifically the legal right for contraception. Likewise, she became known for her years of work for the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform. Beyond unpopular, Robinson was hated by many Irish conservatives who struggled to block every initiative of her ‘family planning rights for women’. In 1997, two months before the end of her term, Robinson was appointed the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights by Kofi Annan. After leaving the UN in 2002, she continued involved in very different international initiatives. She formed the “Realising Rights: the Ethic Globalisation Initiative”, a project aimed at developing equitable trade and decent work standards. Later, she established the ‘Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice’ whose goal is to achieve justice for climate change’s victims. Since 2007, she’s part of ‘The Elders’, a group of world leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela, that aims at reflecting and advice about the world’s most challenging problems. This inspiring lady has received a number of prizes, including Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscious Awards as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States. Check out this short video telling her story.

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