Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women and former President of Chile, will give the Henry E. and Nancy Horton Bartels 2012 World Affairs Fellowship Lecture. The talk, entitled "Women and the new development paradigm" will take place on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. in Statler Auditorium at Cornell University's Ithaca Campus. A reception will follow in the foyer. Admission is free and open to the public.
Ms. Michelle Bachelet is the first Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), which was established on 2 July 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly and became operational by 1 January 2011. UN Women works with the entire UN system, governments, civil society and the private sector to advance women's empowerment and gender equality worldwide.
Ms. Bachelet most recently served as President of Chile from 2006 to 2010. She became the first woman to be elected President in the history of the Republic of Chile. A long-time champion of women's rights, she has advocated for gender equality and women's empowerment throughout her career.
One of her major successes as President was her decision to save billions of dollars in revenues to spend on issues such as pension reform, social protection programmes for women and children, and research and development, despite the financial crisis. Other initiatives included tripling the number of free early child-care centres for low-income families and the completion of some 3,500 child-care centres around the country.
She also held ministerial portfolios in the Chilean Government as Minister of Defense and Minister of Health. As Defense Minister, Ms. Bachelet introduced gender policies intended to improve the conditions of women in the military and police forces. As Minister of Health, she implemented health care reform, improving attention to primary care facilities with the aim of ensuring better and faster health care response for families.
Ms. Bachelet is trained as a doctor, with graduate studies in Military Sciences. In 1970, Michelle Bachelet accompanied a friend to the Posta Central, a major public hospital in Santiago. Although she had previously been thinking about studying Sociology or Economics, her time at the hospital led her to study Medicine at the University of Chile, as a concrete way to relieve people's pain and improve healthcare in Chile. During her years in exile, Mrs. Bachelet studied German in Leipzig, and then enrolled at Humboldt University medical school in Berlin. Michelle Bachelet returned to Chile in 1979, and continued her studies in medicine at the University of Chile. She graduated as a surgeon in 1982.
Her experiences both as a member of a military family and a member of the civilian political sector led her to feel that prevailing political sentiment did not sufficiently value defense policies and their institutional, political and cultural implications. Her opinions on the matter motivated her to take a course on military strategy in the National Academy of Strategic and Political Studies (ANEPE), which she finished at the top of her class. This qualified her for a President of the Republic scholarship to take a course on Continental Defense at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, DC in 1997, along with 35 other civilians and members of the military from all over the Americas. She returned and was immediately hired to work in the Ministry of Defense.
The Henry E. and Nancy Horton Bartels World Affairs Fellowship was established in 1984, to bring prominent international leaders to Cornell. The mission of the fellowship program is explicitly educational-to foster a broadened world view among Cornell students by bringing to campus persons who have distinguished themselves as international public figures.