Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Women agents for change', Robinson tells Pope

Pope Francis greets Mary Robinson in the Vatican
Pope Francis greets Mary Robinson in the Vatican

Sarah MacDonald

Former president Mary Robinson told Pope Francis yesterday that women were powerful agents for change and that empowering them was crucial to addressing the global threat posed by climate change.

The former head of state was the only female among a delegation representing The Elders, a group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights, including former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, who met the pontiff at the Vatican.

They discussed climate change, refugees and human rights in Myanmar at the meeting.

Later this month, the Pope is due to visit Myanmar, which has been widely criticised over its treatment of the Muslim Rohingya people, a group with whom Pope Francis has repeatedly expressed solidarity.

Essays

Mrs Robinson also presented Pope Francis with a copy of a collection of essays by Irish academics and theologians on his encyclical on the environment, 'Laudato Si'. Launching the essays, titled 'Laudato Si: An Irish Response' at Trinity College Dublin ahead of her meeting in Rome, she said recent hurricanes which hit the Caribbean, the US and Ireland were testimony to the cost of climate change.

She highlighted how her foundation had gathered evidence showing women were disproportionately affected by climate change.

Of the papal encyclical, she said: "I think it is a pity that Pope Francis didn't emphasise more the importance of the empowerment of girls and women to his vision of the world."

She also criticised "Ireland's very poor record in controlling greenhouse gas emissions", noting that "Ireland emits the same amount of greenhouse gases as the poorest 400 million people".

Irish Independent

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