These two leaders will discuss working for change at the local, national and international level. Some changes come easily and quickly, and an act of Parliament can formalise a major shift in people’s thinking (think marriage equality, or medicinal cannabis). Other changes can be glacially slow, for instance achieving peace in Ireland or reaching a global solution on climate change.
Mary Robinson – first woman President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is a passionate advocate for gender equality, for women’s participation in peace-building and human dignity. As a barrister, she has sought to use the law as an instrument for social change, arguing landmark cases before the European Court of Human Rights. She also knows the value of using informal channels – she is one of the Elders, an international group of senior statespeople who work behind the scenes. The heart of her work now is her foundation for climate justice.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is also the Leader of the Labour Party, Member of Parliament for Mt Albert, and the Minister for National Security and Intelligence; Arts, Culture and Heritage; and Child Poverty Reduction, an issue particularly close to her heart. She heads a Government that has pledged major change on issues ranging from child poverty to climate change, education to regional development, workers’ rights to fixing the housing crisis. They have made a number of steps in their first hundred days and plan to build on these in the course of 2018.