International Symposium at The Mary Robinson Centre Takes Place

1st July 2016

Posted In: FYI
Mary Robinbson

The Mary Robinson Centre’s International Symposium 2016 brings an international examination of current global affairs to Ballina this weekend as part of its programme entitled ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: Equality, Human Rights, Peace.’

Speaking about the Symposium and its relevance to today’s global situation, former President Mary Robinson said “It is important to link experiences both at the international and local levels in addressing the challenges facing women and girls in securing their rights, and overcoming barriers and discrimination. We need to listen to each other, learn from each other and support each other – particularly when dealing with complex issues such as migration and security.” 

This symposium will examine national responsibilities in relation to gender equality, societal, political and economic inequalities and the pursuit of peace, security and justice through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  With keynote speakers gathering from all continents, speakers will reflect on and share their local perspectives, build a macro-level view of the issues at hand.   Following an Opening Session with Mary Robinson, Noeleen Heyzer and Colm O’Gorman that examines how the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can be transformative, Plenary Sessions will address individual Sustainable Development Goals 5-Gender Equality, 10-Reduced Inequalities and 16-Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions.

Keynote speakers include:

– NOELEEN HEYZER (former UN Under-Secretary General, Head of UNIFEM, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic & Social Commission for Asia Pacific) – During her UNIFEM leadership, the organisation assisted over 100 countries in formulating and implementing legislation and policies that promote women’s security and human rights.  Noeleen will speak about the economic structures and supports required for sustainable development in the current financial climate. 

– GERALDINE FRASER-MOLEKETI (Gender Envoy – African Development Bank) – Having served in South Africa’s first democratic government, Geraldine now leads a strategy to mainstream gender in the African Development Bank’s policies and operations.  She has received many prestigious awards for her work, including ‘2016 New African Women of the Year.’  Geraldine’s address will examine how to mobilise the resources required to achieve gender equality with specific reference to the African continent.

– HEATHER GRADY (Vice President, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) – Heather has recently overseen an annual grant-making budget of $65 million, ensuring significant impact from strategic initiatives in Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience, Impact Investing, Transforming Health Systems, Equitable and Sustainable Transportation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) while she served as vice president, Foundation Initiatives at The Rockefeller Foundation.  Heather’s talk will explore the role philanthropy can play in delivering on the SDGs’ commitment to gender equality.

– MONICA MCWILLIAMS (Professor of Women’s Studies, Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster) – Founder of the NI Women’s Coalition, Monica played an instrumental role in peace negotiations in Northern Ireland and was a signatory of the Good Friday Agreement.  She continues to work on creating sustainable peace in Northern Ireland.  Monica will speak on themes of justice, peace and inclusive societies, sharing her insight on the Northern Ireland situation. 

The Mary Robinson Centre International Symposium 2016 – ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: Equality, Human Rights, Peace’ takes place 1-2 July at Great National Hotel Ballina in Ballina, Co. Mayo.  For more information visit