Mary Robinson to be Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

maryrobinson.jpgLong-time human rights activist and former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson is set to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor Wednesday evening, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  President Barack Obama will bestow the medal on twelve people, including Robinson at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.   Global Fund board member Gay McDougall will be among the guests assembled to witness the ceremony.

Established in 1945 by President Harry Truman, the Presidental Medal of Freedom is awarded to people who have contributed “to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." The Global Fund commended the President with a letter for its selection of Mary Robinson and also issued a statement of support that prominent women's organizations have signed on.

In a statement endorsed by its Board of Directors, the Global Fund for Women proudly supports the nomination of former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Robinson will receive the award at a White House ceremony Wednesday August 12th.  Recognizing Robinson's long record of human rights advocacy around the world, a number of women and women's organizations have signed the statement of support.  We encourage you to share it with your networks, post it on your website or write your own:
Statement in Support of Mary Robinson, Presidential Medal of Honor Awardee
August 10, 2009

Today we join with numerous women’s rights and human rights organizations around the world to salute Mary Robinson’s accomplishments and to celebrate her Presidential Medal of Freedom Award.
We commend the Obama Administration for awarding the US Medal of Freedom to former Irish President and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), Mary Robinson.  For many years now, Mary has been a strong and unwavering supporter of the slogan made famous at the 1995 Beijing UN Conference for Women: “Women’s rights are Human rights.”

Both as President of Ireland, and later as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, she served as a witness to human rights abuses around the world and brought dignity and integrity to the office and her dealings with all states and peoples.  As High Commissioner, Mary used her office to full effect, demonstrating to people around the world that a UN official can and should exemplify courage and compassion.

Mary Robinson has long been a champion of the inherent dignity and equal rights of all people, particularly those whose voices are often marginalized – women and children. As a lawyer in her native Ireland, she brought landmark cases before the courts including legal actions that led to the removal of discrimination against children born out of wedlock, and the achievement of equal pay and opportunity for women in the workplace.

We deplore the tactics of personal attacks, character assassination and misinformation launched by a variety of groups, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Anti-Defamation League; suggesting that she is not worthy of this medal.

Mary continues her human rights work today in her capacity as a member of the Elders group, along with Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, as well as her leadership of the Realizing Rights Initiative.  A recent Newsweek article states, “Obviously, she has been an indomitable defender of freedom across the globe.”  In her numerous activities and leadership roles, Mary Robinson has been and remains a true agent of social change and is richly deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Yours truly,

Global Fund for Women
Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights
Breakthrough: Building Human Rights Culture
Pat Mitchell, Executive Director, Paley Center for Media
Hon. Linda Tarr-Whelan, Former Ambassador to the UN Commission on the Status of Women
Geraldine Laybourne, CEO, Oxygen Media
Naomi Klein, Author
Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO, Acumen Fund
Mary Ann Stein, President, Moriah Fund
Institute for Women's Leadership
Hibaq Osman, Fund for Peace
Holly Near, Singer
Karama/Arab Women's Fund
MS Foundation
Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP)
World Organisation Against Torture
Jessica B. Nkuuhe, Urgent Action Fund – Africa
Lynn Freedman Professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Chris Grumm, Women’s Funding Network
Lydia Alpízar Durán, AWID
Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President, Women Thrive
Nancy Rubin, Former Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission
Emilienne de León, Semillas
Hoda Elsadda, Chair, Women and Memory Forum
Zainab Salbi, Women for Women International
Donna Korones
Deanne Stone
Anne Bailey
Cathy Cade
Marcia Freedman
Mongolian Women's Fund  /MONES/
International Women's Development Agency
Women Win
filia.die frauenstiftung
Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights
Djingarey Maiga, Femmes et Droits Humains Mali
Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres/Central American Women’s Fund
Equality Now
African Women’s Development Fund
Ariane Brunet
Hannah Kranzberg
Donna Hall
The Mediterranean Women’s Fund
Bay Area Women In Black
Joan Hadden, Terrafocus

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