A 19-year-old European Studies student, Mairéad Butler, from Waterford had the incredible honour of taking over Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s office to mark International Day of the Girl.
Mairéad is a member of Plan International Ireland’s Youth Advisory Panel, which engages young people aged 16-24 as ambassadors and advisors to Plan International Ireland.
The development and humanitarian organisation focuses on children’s rights and equality for girls, and International Day of the Girl is the most important date in calendar.
Plan International’s Girls ‘Takeover’ events took place across the world on Monday to mark International Day of the Girl, which has been a UN Day of Observance since 2012.
While ‘taking over’ as role of Taoiseach — an office which has never been held by a woman — Mairéad raised some tough issues with Mr Martin, grilling him on the many challenges still facing girls and young women.
girls around Ireland will be able to picture themselves in the role one day
She informed the Taoiseach about the report launched this week by Plan International, KnoWhere To Go, which details the extent of sexual and reproductive health misinformation young people in Ireland are encountering. Finally, she discussed the positive impact Ireland’s overseas aid programme is having on the lives of millions of girls in some of the poorest regions of the world.
Mairéad said: “I want to thank Taoiseach Micheál Martin for allowing me to take over his office on International Day of the Girl. No woman has yet held the office of Taoiseach, but I hope girls around Ireland will see this today and be able to picture themselves in the role one day.”
Mr Martin said: “I was delighted to meet Mairéad as she took over the Taoiseach’s office to mark International Day of the Girl. We spoke about issues impacting girls and young women in Ireland and globally, including the extent of sexual and reproductive health misinformation young people are encountering. Mairéad’s passion for the advancement of women in public life was evident, and I have no doubt she has a bright future.
“She said she’s looking forward to one day seeing a woman in the Taoiseach’s office — I hope girls around Ireland are inspired to pursue a career in politics after seeing her in the Taoiseach’s seat today.”