04 April 2008

President of Chile receives University honour

Colchester Campus

Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet

The President of Chile, Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, was awarded an Honorary Degree by the University of Essex earlier this month (3 April) in recognition of her achievements in strengthening justice and democracy in Chile.

The ceremony took place at Lancaster House in London in the presence of Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Dr Kim Howells. The Honorary Degree was conferred prior to the 2008 Canning Lecture delivered by President Bachelet, entitled Growth, Globalisation and Equality: An Economic Agenda for Latin America.

During her visit to the UK President Bachelet met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Queen.

President Bachelet said she received the award as recognition of her country and its transition to democracy. She also acknowledged the work of the University's Latin American Centre for its contribution to developing understanding between the UK and Chile.

In her Lecture President Bachelet spoke of Chile's economic development and ensuring it went hand in hand with developing social cohesion and equality. She stressed the importance of education in achieving these challenges.

Michelle Bachelet Jeria is Chile's first female President and only the second woman to be elected to lead a Latin American nation. Having spent much of the 1970s in exile she returned to her home country in 1979 where she completed medical training at the University of Chile. Following a career in paediatric medicine, which included working for the West Santiago Health Service and the National Aids Commission, she became Senior Assistant to the Deputy Health Minister in 1994. She was later Senior Assistant to the Defence Minister and became a member of the Socialist Party Executive Committee. In 2000 she was appointed Health Minister and in 2002 she became the first woman in Latin American history to hold the Defence portfolio. In 2004 she stood as presidential candidate and after a closely-run election was named President in 2006.

For further information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on 01206 874377 or e-mail comms@essex.ac.uk.

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