Mary Robinson Former President of Ireland and the new special envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Great Lakes region, speaks about her foundation and her advocacy for gender equality, the rights of women in Africa, climate change, and her work with the Senegal-based Femmes Africa Solidarite, and more specifically the Gender Is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC)
I am very committed to supporting development in Africa and also empowerment and development of women specifically. When I served as UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, I went to a number of African countries and in those travels I realised that human rights issues in Africa, women's issues, were particularly in need of support and attention. So when we established Realising Rights we decided to focus on economic and social rights in African countries.
On my travels to Africa, I have become more aware of the negative impact of climate and this led me to establish the Mary Robinson Foundation--Climate Justice. I saw clear examples of the impact of climate change in so many African countries. Women are the farmers on the whole, and it's women who have to cope with these devastating weather conditions. This is why my foundation has spearheaded an initiative to strengthen the participation of women in climate conferences, which we were able to do in Doha last December.
I have worked closely with Bineta Diop head of Femmes Africa Solidarite and she invited me to a number of GIMAC meetings. I helped Bineta to organise the Sudanese Women's Forum. I am also encouraging GIMAC not just to focus on the immediate issues of peace and security but also to look at climate justice because it's also a potential source of conflict. They...