The Daily Juggle
The Daily Juggle
The extraordinary impact of Mary Robinson
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There is something to be said for being in a room full of amazing women. At the end of a long week I left the office to attend the only official Australian event that would feature Ireland's first female President Mary Robinson.
In the Sydney offices of legal firm Kemp Strang last Friday evening, a small stage was constructed in her honour. About 60 women huddled around anticipating greatness. Amongst the group were some of Australia's most successful women, including AFL commissioner and company director Sam Mostyn, Chief Executive of Green Building Council of Australia Romilly Madew, and CEO of AFTRS Sandra Levy.
The agenda was set by 1 Million Women CEO Natalie Isaacs who had invited Mary to be guest of honour at the event, which would serve to announce a recipe book project aimed at generating ideas to save energy, reduce waste and cut pollution. The project will kick off in November with the book to be published on International Women's Day next year. Check the website for more details.
When the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights took to the stage it was like a friend, an impressive friend, had dropped by for a chat. Without the need for hubris or self-promotion, even though she has just released a memoir Everybody Matters, Mary told us why she believes women matter so greatly to the climate change cause. She said women think about the impact of climate change on future generations perhaps more than men because we spend so much time discussing our children and grandchildren.
"It's women who have to create the urgency because we are resourceful and intergenerational," she said.
"A country like Australia with a woman leader is important for the leadership position on climate."
Mary believes in the need for a carbon tax and is certain that in future years we will look back and wonder why we didn't do more sooner.
"A carbon tax is a minor component of what we need to do," she said adding that we need to favour renewable energies and remove subsidies on fossil fuels .
"Oil is the water of the 21st century and waste is the gold because we can turn it into energy."
In 2010 Mary set up The Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice to assist the world's poorest people who are most affected by climate change and usually forgotten. She is also part of a special global club of women who are former Presidents and Prime Ministers. The club has 42 living members, with one notable exception. Lady Margaret Thatcher declined the invitation to be a part of this powerful female networking group.
Noting the challenges of women in industries like business and politics where some women may feel the need to adopt male attributes, Mary encouraged "young, bright women to be a part of the world we're in".
"Be proud to be a woman," she said.
I departed the event feeling empowered and energized. When a woman like Mary Robinson tells you to go forth and help save the world, because we all share a responsibility to do so, you don't need to be told twice.