This year's International Human Rights Lecture was delivered by Graça Machel, one of the world’s leading women’s and children's rights activists who has campaigned tirelessly to champion equality for women and children. Machel is the former freedom fighter, Mozambique's first Education Minister, a founding member of the Elders and the widow of the late Nelson Mandela.
Machel’s lecture at The Mary Robinson Centre addressed equality and justice for all in our society, looking at issues in today’s world that adversely affect women and children, including climate change, political and social unrest and the current migrant crisis, and presented a different Africa than perhaps the one we are familiar with.
At the podium, Machel profiled strong female leaders who have contributed to Africa’s political, social and economic development and spoke about the level of parliamentary gender representation achieved in countries like Rwanda (63 percent), South Africa (42 percent) and Mozambique (39 percent).
However, she also notes that there is still much to do on a global level. Machel spoke of the ‘painfully slow pace’, since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, “of recognising that this person, who is a woman, is a complete human being, with human rights.”
“Women have moved from obscurity to visibility, but we have yet to gain the influence and capacity needed to assert action that will benefit not just women, but men and women, the human family and human dignity as a whole.” Graça Machel
A discussion between Graça Machel and Mary Robinson followed the lecture, facilitated by journalist Olivia O’Leary.
More coverage of the lecture in the Irish Times and the Mayo News.