Mary Robinson is an icon in Irish history, as the first woman to become President.  After serving most of her term, she left the role in 1997 to become the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and ever since, she has worked tirelessly to make the world a better place. In fact, we were gifted with double Mary’s, when Mary McAleese succeeded her as president for two further terms.

Before Mary became president, she was already working hard and had some big achievements. She became Ireland’s youngest professor of law when she was appointed Reid Professor of Constitutional and Criminal Law at Trinity College aged 25.

Here’s why we love Mary R, and why you should too…

1. She was set on breaking those glass ceilings for the women of Ireland. 

Her main goal in her time as president was to change the roles of women in Ireland. She felt so strongly about this, she even gave a special mention to the ‘Mná Na hEireann’. She also didn’t let other people’s opinion stop her. In 1971 she tried to introduce a bill that would give more freedom in accessing contraception and despite receiving hate, kept pursuing the bill. Let’s remember that life for women was very different in the 70’s from what it is now. She is one tough cookie and we are all for it.

2. She is a fantastic activist

This woman is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. If she wants to see change, she makes it happen. Mary served as the secretary-general of the World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in 2001. Before the same-sex marriage campaign of 2015, she worked as a legal advisor in the campaign and worked specifically in the reform of homosexuality laws.

3. She is the perfect example of a feminist

Now, we know this, and you probably do too, but being a feminist doesn’t mean you hate men and will stand up on tables burning your bra! Being a feminist is about fighting for the equality of women and men. To us, Mary Robinson is the perfect example of this.  She founded her own organisation Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative which focused on giving all people access to health care, promotion of women in leadership, migration, fair international trade and corporate responsibility. She was also a founding member of the Council of Women World Leaders which is a group made of women in leadership positions. It aims to ‘mobilize the highest-level women leaders on issues of critical importance to women.’ She is also a member of ‘The Elders,’ a group established by Nelson Mandela and Richard Branson. It aims to bring together leaders and use their influence to promote human rights, peace and justice worldwide.


If you’d like to learn more about our former president, then you can check her book, ‘Everybody Matters: A Memoir,’ which describes her life’s work in more detail! We are all so grateful to Mary for paving the way for female leadership and influencing many lives across the world!

P.S. Tammy and one of our ambassadors Katie actually got to meet Mary Robinson a couple of years ago, and what a lady!

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