Posted by: maryssarotte | November 4, 2012

Mary Robinson’s Lecture on Women Leaders

To mark the ‘Free Thinking Festival’ in the UK, the opening speech was given by Mary Robinson who has been a trail blazer politician in the UK. She held the presidency in Ireland and the Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. The theme of the festival is “Them and Us” a discussion on the growing division within the world due to classes, personal differences and inequalities.

The speech Ms. Robinson gave is quite long, but some of the interesting points she makes that I caught:

No country has gender equality. If you don’t listen to any other part of her speech, go to the 10:30 mark and listen as she talks about the implications of women’s roles if given equality. The part that gave me goose bumps was her memories of visiting the middle east during their voting period. A women would not wash herself after voting just to keep the inked finger, a sign she voted, for as long as she could. That kind of empowerment she felt in her little finger is immense. Do we feel that now, as women voting for our own presidency, when in many states women’s rights are on the bill? Will we feel empowered as these women did?

The need for women’s reproductive rights and family planning. She states that there is a correlation between the access to these health care facilities and poverty, well being and overall gender equality. My thoughts when hearing her speak of this, I know she is referring to third world countries and those which completely ban women’s rights; but the access to those institutions is becoming an issue in many developed countries such as ours. Taking the facts she presents as true, should women be more outspoken or even take up the cause entirely into their hands and insure these rights be given?

“Women’s leadership tend to be more enabling, listening and participating and tends to be more problem solving. The traditional male leadership tends to be…very male hierarchical and dominant.” She goes on to say that men have gone on to adapt a more “feminine” leadership. From last class I wish she would have used a different word than “feminine” to describe this leadership style. But she answers a question about current women leaders and their roles.

I know most won’t listen to this long clip, but if you skip along the way, and half way through she starts her Q&A. I applaud her for speaking about gender inequality in a very unwavering way. I do love that she says ” men just don’t do enough at all” and gets quite the round of applause.


  1. “Women’s leadership tend to be more enabling, listening and participating and tends to be more problem solving. The traditional male leadership tends to be…very male hierarchical and dominant.”

    This quote you mentioned is obviously not a new idea that we’ve never heard. But it just makes me more certain that we are right, and the last article we discussed where the man thought we needed to stop labeling men as the “enemy” barely has any room to talk.

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