Anne Anderson

The CV of Anne Anderson reads like a list of firsts. She graduated with a degree in history and politics at the age of 19. After this she entered politics, when she began working at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland in 1972. In 1976 she moved to Geneva where she worked as the First Secretary to Ireland’s UN Ambassador. During this time she had a six month assignment in Belgrade.

In 1983 she joined the Irish embassy in Washington D.C. as the economic attaché, a post that she would hold for two years but which had a major impact on the rest of her career. She became involved in labour issues and the skills that she learned while in this role helped her in her next role: Counsellor in the Anglo-Irish Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs. During this time she worked on trying to bring in fair employment legislation in Northern Ireland.

In 1995 she was named the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations. In 1999 she became the chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, becoming only the fourth woman to hold this position. Following this, in 2001 she was named as Ireland’s ambassador to the European Union. She was awarded the title of Diplomat of the Year by European Voice in 2004. In 2007 she became the first woman to hold the post of Ireland’s Ambassador to France. And in 2013 she was chosen by the Irish government as the country’s ambassador to the United States, the first woman to hold this position. After meeting with President Barack Obama he commented to her that it was “past time” for a woman to hold that position. In her current role she is focused on improving trade deals between the two countries as well as the issue of immigration reform.

Anne is aware that she has crashed through glass ceilings in Irish politics but she is also aware that others could have come before her. In Ireland, until 1973 there was a ban on married women joining the civil service.

I am very aware of that, that we had a marriage ban in the Irish diplomatic service until we joined the European Union, so there were generations of women whose talent and potential could not be fully utilised.

-Michelle O’Brien
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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