Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

IJDH’s Newest Board Member Discusses Justice at Mount Holyoke College

Joia Mukherjee, IJDH’s newest board member and a long-time collaborator delivered a powerful commencement address at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts. The address is a must-read for anyone who cares about justice or healthcare, providing examples from Haiti, Kenya and more of how activism can change the world.

Part of the transcript is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Commencement Address 2016

May 15, 2016

Photo of Joia Mukherjee

Following is a transcript of the keynote speech by Joia Mukherjee, the chief medical officer for Partners In Health.

Thank you, President Pasquerella, Chairperson Baumann. The faculty, the staff of Mount Holyoke College. And congratulations to my fellow honorary degree recipients. I am very delighted to be here with all of you.

Most of all, congratulations to all of you, the class of 2016.


I am so proud to be one of your classmates! A blue lion, just like you.


Warmest congratulations to families, and loved ones, and friends who have accompanied these graduates for the last four years—and often longer—who stood by you through in your freshman year jitters, four South Hadley winters—including the snowpacalypse of 2015, even in Boston we had a lot of snow—and the decisions about majors, your triumphs, your tragedies. This graduation is for all of your loved ones and “accompagnateurs,” as we say at Partners in Health. Thank you all.


It is a great honor to be here and receive this degree from Mount Holyoke, the oldest of the Seven Sisters.


When this college was founded in 1837, the very idea of women’s education was radical. Think about that for a minute. That revolutionary idea, that Mary Lyon put forward, made it her mission to use education to disrupt hegemonic forces of the day. That’s your mission.

Let’s fast-forward to the now. President Pasquerella’s final Commencement. We’ve come full circle, the president and I. I was six years ago invited to speak as part of her inaugural activities here at Mount Holyoke College. At that time, she said, “In order to promote women’s leadership, women’s political participation, women’s economic capacity, and in order to stem violence against women, we must turn to education.”

Click HERE for the full text.

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