President Barack Obama names Chair of GAVI's Executive Board as recipient of top American civilian honour
Washington, 30 July 2009- President Barack Obama has named GAVI Alliance Board Chair Mary Robinson as a recipient of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States.
The Medal, which recognises exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavours, will be formally awarded to Mrs. Robinson at a ceremony on August 12.
"GAVI is delighted and deeply honoured that its highest representative has been named for such a prestigious award and we congratulate Mary on this award," said GAVI CEO Julian Lob-Levyt.
"Mary's leadership in seeking to ensure that all children in the world have the same basic rights to a healthy and productive future personifies GAVI's mission."
First female President of Ireland
Mrs. Robinson, who was chosen to chair the GAVI Board in October 2008, was the first female President of Ireland (1990 - 1997) and is a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997 - 2002), a post that required her to end her presidency four months early. Mary Robinson served as a prominent member of the Irish Senate prior to her election as President.
As well as her work for GAVI, Mrs. Robinson continues to bring attention to international issues as Honorary President of Oxfam International, and, since 2002, she has been President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, based in New York -- an organization she founded to make human rights the compass which charts a course for globalization that is fair, just and benefits all.
Mrs. Robinson will be one of 16 individuals to receive the 2009 President Medal of Freedom.
"Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive. It is my great honour to award them the Medal of Freedom," said President Barack Obama on Thursday.
"These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds. Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs. Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way."