Empowerment and Entrepreneurship in the developing world: Mary Robinson & Margaret Wallström

In this post I will share a series of highlights from the final headline session on day one featuring these two remarkable women following an introduction to their work.

Mary Robinson served as many years as an Irish Senator before being elected the Prime Minister of Ireland in 1990. After serving seven years, she became the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights after she was nominated by then Secretary General, Kofi Annan and endorsed by the general assembly. During her tenure she focused on mainstreaming human rights across all UN agencies and integrating human rights considerations into the operations of UN agencies. Even while still Prime Minister, she had built a reputation for taking action on human rights and was the first leader to visit Somalia in the wake of its crisis in 1992 and the first to visit Rwanda following the genocide in 1994.

In recent years Mary has continued her work and currently serves on the board of the GAVI alliance which is dedicated to providing immunisation to the poorest children around the world. Mary along with Margot, for the past five years or so have also been working closely together on the ‘Road to Copenhagen’ which was focused on not only achieving a binding, substantive treaty at the COP15 climate summit but  also instrumental in advancing the recognition of Climate Justice as being at the core of efforts to address climate change. This collaborative effort is managed through the Mary Robinson Foundation –  Climate Justice. Check it out as it is a highly innovative platform in itself that meshes together networks of change that are deeply committed to climate justice

Margot Wallström is no less remarkable. She is a Swedish Social Democratic Politician (rumours are flying around in the Swedish Press that point to her as the next leader of the Social Democratic Party after the recent resignation of Mona Sahlin) and she holds the post as a special representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Prior to this she served in the distinguished position as the European Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy. Margot has also served as the Environment Commissioner within the EU from 1999-2004. Prior to this she has served in the Swedish Government as the Minister of Consumer Affairs Women & Youth, Minister for culture and Minister for social affairs. Finally like a woman after my own heart, she was the very first member of the European Commission to set up and operate a blog.

Some of the most thought provoking excerpts from their presentation were the following:

From Mary’s Speech:

I am so happy to be here at Globe Forum as it is about thinking outside the box and celebrating the best of what it is to be Irish and our potential to create a better future

The icons of climate change were polar bears not people. We were seeing devastated small-scale farmers. I.e the farmer in Northern Uganda that has lost their food security, weather patterns have changed, flashfloods and drought. Realisation that this was not an act of good but climate change was happening.

How do we ensure that the ways of bringing energy to the poorest are sustainable? These are both challenges and opportunities. We need to ask how we tackle poverty. Empower the poor and I mean poor, they do not want to be passive reciepients but active, small-scale entrepreneurs.

The task for Globe forum and all of us in the room is to root entrepreneurship in values. Two of the most important being equity and justice. This includes listening to the science, recognising the scale of challenge and the justness of thinking about how to help the poorest to access energy.

Yes, the scale of the challenge is matched by the scale of the opportunities. Goverments are reducing their capacity to act ads are IGOS, it really needs to be a broad alliance of state and non-state actors partnering in non-traditional ways

water is the oil of the 21st century and waste is the gold

From Margot’s Speech:

It is important to recognise the link to how climate change effects women as worsening climate impacts can lead to more armed conflict which has a disproportionately large impact on women and children. More of this will occur if climate change continues unabated. People came up to us in Liberia and said “We are already experiencing climate change, we have just lived through the warmest decade in our memory”

How can Globe Forum audience help this process, empower women, help prevent sexual violence, and reduce their vulnerability primarily through improved communications. How can existing technologies be adapted to aid in this process

The creation of my post is a positive sign that they cannot create sustainable peace without addressing the treatment of women. Women are the backbone of life in Africa and they carry the heaviest burden. Right now we have a political opportunity.

I end this post with a short video of Mary Robinson at Globe Forum Dublin. the full speeches will be available online soon so please check at Globeforum.com.


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