To celebrate Women’s History Month, Mary Robinson, Ireland’s first female president and former United Nations high commissioner for human rights, delivered the 17th annual Luann Dummer lecture Monday night in O’Shaughnessy Educational Center.
During the speech, titled “The Impact of Global Economic Crisis on Women and Children,” Robinson said St. Thomas is an “enterprising university.”
Junior Sarah Rieck said she was surprised by the lecture.
“The personal stories she shared about how women were not valued in some societies surprised me,” she said.
Robinson grew up in a family of four brothers and both of her parents were doctors. During the speech, she shared a memory from her childhood when her father came home from helping delivery a baby. “Is it a boy or a child,” the parents asked Robinson’s father. Robinson said she still remembers this quote and how girls were “second place,” even in their own families.
Many women have lost their jobs lately because of the economic crisis, according to Robinson. In this time of economic downturn, she said people should invest in women and girls as a society because they reinvest in their own families, which betters the economy at large.
Because of the economic downturn, though, girls are more likely to be pulled from school before boys, Robinson said.
“There is a lacking of women’s rights in developed and emerging countries that I was unaware of,” senior Nick Frost said.
On the topic of gender, Robinson said people should remember it is not just about women and girls. It is about men and women, boys and girls, she said.
Robinson also stressed the fact that women and girls are not just victims; they are on the move and agents of change.
“I would like to follow her lead and speak up for women and families,” Rieck said.
Kristian Kircher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.