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F. Kenny: Address to World Summit 2020

Address to World Summit 2020, Seoul, Korea, February 3-8, 2020


I am happy to be here. I do think this conference is exceptionally important. I found it fascinating today. I come from Ireland, a small island off the West Coast of Europe. We were devastated by poverty and immigration for years and years and years. There are 5 million Irishmen on the island of Ireland now, but we have 75 million people around the world who claim Irish heritage. So we have an enormous diaspora. Even though it was awful to lose them at the time they were emigrating, it creates a whole nation around the world which we really treasure and gives us influence which far exceeds our importance as a tiny, little place.

The greatest reason we have progressed was our membership in the European Union. We joined in 1975, and since then, with the help of our neighbors, we are now contributing to those newcomers to reach their full potential. You can never underestimate the power of people and countries working together.

I would like to thank Dr. Julia [Moon, president of Women’s Federation for World Peace], and I should acknowledge Madam Debbie [Remengesau, the first lady of Palau] in particular, for this wonderful conference, for the contributions, raising the issues that are so varied and yet so universal. It makes you think about the decisions that we make in the world and how they affect people who live thousands of miles away and about whom we know literally nothing, but the ripples roll around the world, and examples of good things that happened will have the same effect. That's why it is so important, if we exchange ideas, exchange problems that someone has already coped with, that these little ripples that are successes in one area can feed into others.

I think, also, for those of us who are or who have been first ladies, it can be very isolating and lonely and you arrive with no experience, so to have a network to call out, to encourage you, to share and bring you on, and show you the power you can have, or that you could use if you have to go about, is invaluable. So really, thank you all so much for sharing your wisdom and your experience with us. Hopefully together we will all grow and improve and make the world a better place for our children.



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