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Ireland's Microsoft chief honoured with Women of Concern award
Concern Worldwide has presented Microsoft Ireland Managing Director Cathriona Hallahan with the inaugural Women of Concern award for her achievements in leadership and tireless work towards gender equality.
A distinguished career
Cathriona, who joined Microsoft in 1986, was appointed Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland in 2013.
As well as her Microsoft responsibilities, Cathriona sits on the boards of Solas, IBEC Ireland, IBEC National Council, UCD Advisory Board to the President of the College and National Competitiveness Council. She is also a member of the International Women’s Forum.
The bespoke bog oak award was presented to Ms Hallahan during a special luncheon at Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel on Friday, 19 October.
The award, which is entitled 'Life's Journey' shows a sailboat on the seas, reflecting the journey of the noteworthy awardee.
“I think both organisations [Microsoft and Concern Worldwide] are very focussed on trying to empower people to achieve more,” Ms Hallahan said.
“Microsoft has a focus on humanitarian aid and we are trying to work with companies like Concern to help them accelerate the time to bring relief to the areas that need it most.”
During her acceptance speech, Ms Hallahan encouraged men in power to strive for more gender equality at a managerial level.
An afternoon to remember
Other speakers at the luncheon were Concern’s Youth Ambassador Aline Joyce Berabose, MC Terry Prone and Concern’s CEO Dominic MacSorley.
Speaking before the event, Mr MacSorley said the day was not only about celebrating advances in gender equality, but also highlighting that much more needs to be done.
“With conflict now becoming a major driver in increasing displacement and increasing levels of hunger, we are now seeing that women are suffering the most,” he said.
“Today, we are here to pay tribute to the leadership in the corporate sector through Cathriona Hallahan.
“Microsoft has been a key partner of Concern’s over the years, bringing a level of funding, cooperation and intelligence to make us more effective.”
The luncheon was also a perfect time for supporter of Concern to get a better understanding of the charity’s work, according to Cormac Murphy from key corporate partner EY.
“I think it’s a really important opportunity for people who feel strongly about the work of Concern to come together and just pause for a moment and get a chance to listen to what the guys are saying in terms of what they’re doing.”
Although this is the first year of the awards in Ireland, it has been running for a number of years in America. Past honourees include actress Toni Collette, former US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and world-renowned Irish architect Aine Brazil.
Guests included Businesswoman Norah Casey, Former Justice Minister and Concern Board Member Nora Owens and Senator Catherine Noone.
Gender Equality – Leaving No One Behind
In the last year, the global gender equality movement has grown and deepened across many countries including Ireland, but gender inequality remains most entrenched in the world’s poorest regions.
Laws and customs in many countries prevent women from participating equally in society, while the effects of poverty, conflict and climate change affect women disproportionately. Women and girls are routinely denied access to education and work opportunities, and gender- based violence (GBV) overwhelmingly affects women most, particularly during times of conflict and displacement.
Concern believes that women are the primary agents of change in the community and we place women’s empowerment at the heart of our humanitarian and development programmes. We work with women and female headed households to help them secure lasting improvement in their lives and the lives of their families, to reduce and respond to GBV, and to empower women to accelerate positive change in their communities.
We also proactively engage men in our gender empowerment programmes to ensure that change is holistic and sustainable.
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We are working with women and men to significantly reduce inequalities and empower everyone living in extreme poverty to improve their lives.