How Elizabeth Broderick is taking soft-power feminism to the world
Advertisement

How Elizabeth Broderick is taking soft-power feminism to the world

She has been instrumental in improving gender equity in Australia. Now the former Sex Discrimination Commissioner is seeking change on a global scale.

By Jacqueline Maley

Elizabeth Broderick version of feminism is empathic, non-threatening and favours consensus over confrontation.

Elizabeth Broderick version of feminism is empathic, non-threatening and favours consensus over confrontation.Credit:Tim Bauer

Elizabeth Broderick, women's rights campaigner, UN rapporteur, 2016 NSW Australian of the Year and – in the words of one of her more indignant detractors – "incompetent vagina", is making her way to the speaker's podium. She glides more than she walks, weaving through the tables of the Members' Dining Room at NSW Parliament, elegant in a tasteful black jacket, checked trousers and low heels. The audience is largely comprised of female lawyers, here to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women being permitted, by our mutton-chopped male forebears, to practise law in NSW and to run for state parliament.

Broderick is a former lawyer, too, and these are well and truly her people, in some cases literally – her daughter and her niece, both law students, are seated at a table in the front. She places her rectangular-shaped spectacles on her nose and begins her speech.

"While the Women's Legal Status Act was passed into law in 1918, voting on this by the men in the NSW Legislative Council was far from unanimous," she says. " … The Hon Dr Nash MLC remarked, 'There are many things not within the province of a woman … I look upon the whole thing as a joke … but we will pass the bill and have the experiment.'"

The audience is the result of the experiment, and they love this. The women laugh loudly at the joke, although probably not in the spirit intended by Dr Nash.

"And so, the NSW Parliament did."

Broderick continues, sweeping through history to show how far we've come from the days of Dr Nash, recounting personal recollections of her time as a young mother at a big law firm (where she pushed for flexible work long before it was fashionable), and sounding a warning about the global backlash against women's rights she sees in her role as United Nations Special Rapporteur on discrimination against women and girls.

"There are forces determined to bring men and women back to traditional gender roles, to adopt a regressive stance in the name of tradition," she says.

Advertisement

Remember when female public figures were counselled to deepen their voices to augment their authority? Broderick never got that memo – her voice is soft and she lisps. She peppers her speech, both formal and informal, with feminine tics: she speaks of "joys" and "collaborations", she calls the people she works with "beautiful", whether they are CEOs or factory workers, and she maintains a refreshingly adolescent use of the idiom "Hello!?" and even the occasional, excitable "Holy shit!" in relation to her new role at the UN.

But her softness in style should not be misinterpreted. Broderick, or Liz, as she is known to the lawyers, prime ministers, community activists, rape victims, military personnel and recalcitrant misogynists with whom she has softly negotiated during her 35-year career, is on a mission. She wants, she tells me when we meet weeks after the dinner at parliament, "a world where men and women are paid equally, where domestic work is shared, where there is no violence or harassment … where all human beings are valued and treated equally".

"I am the keeper of thousands of stories, and I think that as I've aged I've grown less tolerant of unequal treatment," she says.

Since finishing up as Australia's Sex Discrimination Commissioner in 2015, and fulfilling her 2016 Australian of the Year duties, Broderick, 58, has established her own consultancy specialising in diversity, gender equality and cultural change. More recently, this woman – who has been such a strong agent of change in Australia – has taken her brand of collaborative, empathic feminism global: in 2017 she was appointed by the UN as an Independent Expert (Special Rapporteur) for the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, and in 2018 she launched her Male Champions of Change initiative globally.

Her travel schedule of the past few months tells the story: in October she was in New York for a meeting with her fellow UN Special Rapporteurs, then she hopped over to Pakistan to convene the first meeting of her Male Champions of Change in that country. After a holiday to Namibia with her dad, sisters and their kids, she came home to work on the report her consultancy is doing for the NSW Police, which has few women at its senior levels. She convened a meeting of the Male Champions of Change in sport, to get them cracking on pay equality for female athletes, and was made a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology, Science and Engineering.

She celebrated Christmas with her family and headed off on a road trip to Broken Hill with her twin sister and their husbands (they do a different Australian road trip every year), then left for Davos, Switzerland, to convene a group of Male Champions of Change in the global tech industry. From there, she flew back to New York for another meeting with her fellow rapporteurs.

The UN role, in particular, is a big deal, and because Broderick lives what she preaches, naturally she came down with a bad case of imposter syndrome when applying for it. "I thought, 'Look, there's no chance I would possibly get this role. I'm not qualified enough.'" When she was shortlisted for interview, "that was exciting, but I never thought for a minute I would get the actual role". She was interviewed by a panel of men ("You've got to love that, for women's rights," she says drily) but performed poorly in her estimation. "I said to my husband, 'Well that's it, we can forget about that.'"

Advertisement

When she was eventually selected for the pro-bono role, there was jubilation, but as Broderick boarded the plane to Geneva for her induction in late 2017, she struggled again. "'Oh my god, what have I done?' 'Am I going to have the skills necessary to do the job well?' 'I don't know what the Istanbul Convention says or what this or that convention says,'" she thought. But then Broderick reminded herself of her other, non-legal expertise. None of the other rapporteurs had worked closely with the military, as she had, when she led the 2011 review into the treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force. Few had worked so closely with the private sector. None had created an initiative like Male Champions of Change, which brought male business leaders together to address gender inequality in corporate Australia.

I ask Broderick if she thinks UN Secretary-General António Guterres gives himself stern lectures about leaning in. "Probably not," she laughs. "Do you think any of them do? No, probably not."

Hard experience aside, Broderick believes her main skills are her so-called "soft" ones. Her ability to listen sympathetically and without judgement. Her knack for bringing together people with wild differences. Her skill for getting people to find common ground. "I can agree with one small bit of what you're saying somewhere, and if I can do that I can open up a chink," she says, "because if I demolish your view right off the bat, I demolish the life experiences that have shaped you to hold that view."

Empathy, compromise, listening: such unshowy, traditionally feminine skills are rare, and even unfashionable, in contemporary public discourse, which seems increasingly shouty, confrontational and divisive. "I try to explore why you hold your view." One view she hears "over and over again" is that we are promoting incompetent women over meritorious men. "I hear that put in really problematic ways," she says – like by the guy who emailed her when she was Sex Discrimination Commissioner to tell her she was "an incompetent vagina". You should put that on your business card, I say. Then Broderick swears, ever so sweetly. "Most of them, I do find funny … the inside of me is saying, not, 'What the f…?', but something like, 'Shoot me now'." She laughs. "I do try to bring us to a deeply human conversation right off the bat."

Broderick may be soft in style and discreet in manner. She may wear well-cut suits and live in a leafy Sydney suburb. But in her quiet-but-daring mission to emphasise what we share, rather than what we disagree on, she may just be the greatest counter-cultural warrior Australia has right now.

"It's just something I have always gravitated towards … that deep desire to do something at the heart of shared humanity."

"It's just something I have always gravitated towards … that deep desire to do something at the heart of shared humanity."Credit:Tim Bauer. Hair and make-up by Giorgia Skye using Charlotte Tilbury.

Some weeks after her NSW Parliament House speech, I meet Broderick in the well-appointed downtown Sydney offices of her consultancy. She immediately asks after me: I'm recovering from a child-borne virus and Broderick can talk croup as easily as she can human rights (she has two adult children, Tom, 22 and Lucy, 21). She references a few pieces I have recently written (I learn later she is meticulous in her research), and we fall easily into a chat about my daughter. With Broderick, family infuses every conversation, and she seems generally interested in yours, and in you.

Advertisement

It strikes me that this is a kind of soft-power superpower. Her own family is close, literally – her father, her sisters and their families live within a few blocks of her and husband, Hunter Southwick, in Sydney's north-west. Her identical twin sister, Jane Latimer, a Sydney University professor specialising in musculoskeletal health, does some work at her consultancy.

It's early summer, and a blockbuster news week in terms of gender politics. Actress Yael Stone has just given thoughtful interviews to The New York Times and on ABC TV's 7.30 saying actor Geoffrey Rush behaved inappropriately towards her when they worked together on a play. Federal Nationals MP Andrew Broad has resigned following a "sugar daddy" scandal. Federal Liberal MP Julia Banks has recently quit and moved to the crossbench, and the conversation about sexist bullying in politics continues. I ask Broderick what she thinks about Australia's political culture.

"I look at it and say it's a culture I wouldn't want my daughter to be part of," she says. "I don't think it's good enough. I don't think the culture should be a political issue, either. It should be a human issue. It is a workplace where we need men and women to thrive equally. How do we get to that place in an institution which is founded on an adversarial system? I don't know. There are no easy answers. How do we bring respect and dignity back into our political process? Even asking the question would be a good first step."

Of the Liberal Party, which has low numbers of female MPs, she says, matter-of-factly: "They need a target." Broderick's passion for gender equality does not lie in past injustices done to her. She has led what seems to be a lucky life, one of three daughters to devoted parents who ran a small medical practice together in Caringbah in Sydney's south. Her father was a nuclear medicine physician; her mother (who passed away in 2003, aged 69), a physiotherapist and "real activist". Broderick's father was "a man before his time", she says, and "very much involved in the running of the house and the caring of the kids". Now 88, he hosted the family's recent Namibia trip. Broderick shows me photos on her phone, smiling broadly. "Gender stereotypes imprison men as much as women," she says. "That's to society's detriment."

Elizabeth Broderick with her husband, Hunter Southwick, and children, Tom and Lucy.

Elizabeth Broderick with her husband, Hunter Southwick, and children, Tom and Lucy.Credit:Courtesy of Elizabeth Broderick

From the age of about four, Broderick and Jane helped out in the family business, ferrying X-rays and cups of tea. Later, when Broderick and her sisters (Broderick also has a younger sister, Carolyn Broderick, who is the chief medical officer for Tennis Australia) learnt to drive, they were tasked with picking up patients at hospital and bringing them to the surgery. This early experience formed Broderick in two ways: first, it acclimatised her to the world of work, and the integration of work with family. This made it natural for her to lead the way in bringing work/life balance into her legal career in a way that was unthinkable in corporate circles at the time. Second, it honed her empathy: the patients in the surgery were often waiting for a big diagnostic result – cancer, or some other disease.

"It's probably the one skill I have, is to sit with people who are going through traumatic events, or sit with human suffering, just be with them," she says. "It's just something I have always gravitated towards. So maybe it's that side of it, rather than having a direct experience early on in my life of discrimination – that deep desire to do something at the heart of shared humanity."

Advertisement

Broderick went on to study IT/law at the University of NSW, and it was here that she experienced gender imbalance firsthand. She remembers turning up to one class where she was the only woman. "Assembler programming and digital logic," she recounts. "I realised on day one that if I was to have a chance to pass this course, I needed to help the boys do their essays and they would help me write my programming." After university Broderick followed the graduate trail to London, where she met Southwick, a fellow Aussie, at a Mental As Anything concert. An accountant-turned-financial services consultant with flexible hours, Southwick is the family cook, and Broderick is upfront in saying she could not have had her career without a husband who took an equal role in caring for their kids and running the household. They celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this year.

On her return to Australia, she started as a lawyer at Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst) in the Sydney CBD. She decided to specialise in technology law, which, in the early 1990s, was an emerging practice area and not well regarded by the "real lawyers" of the litigation and commercial departments. By 1991 she was the head of Blake's Legal Technology Group – which wasn't as grand as it sounds, she says, as she was the only lawyer in it. Over the next few years, she grew the practice to a staff of eight lawyers. She was made partner in 1994, after being knocked back on her first nomination.

In 1996, three of her team members visited over the course of a few weeks to tell her they were pregnant. She hadn't announced it yet, but so was Broderick, with her first child. That meant half the team, including its leader, would be on maternity leave at the same time. Broderick responded by creating a stealth policy of flexible work. The mothers would work part-time, phoning into the office regularly. "We did it under the radar. If the wheels were falling off at work, we could bring the baby in and remedy the situation," she says. "We were absolutely committed to making it work. We wanted to show that it was possible. We didn't ask for permission. We decided we would ask for forgiveness if the wheels fell off."

In a stroke of genius, she also hired a former nanny as secretary to the group, who helped out when the babies were in the office. "She was just beautiful, wonderful," says Broderick. When Broderick returned to work after three months' maternity leave, she was the first partner to do so part-time – revolutionary in those days. She had her daughter Lucy 18 months later, and took four months' leave, then worked three days a week until both kids were in high school. "I didn't want to just go back to work in the way I had prior to giving birth," she says. "It needed to be different and if it was going to be different, we needed to come up with the solution."

Broderick believes the next frontier is getting men more involved in childcare: she believes men should be given four weeks, not two, under the paid parental leave scheme, and that it should be on a "use it or lose it" basis. "Over time, we should move to the equal sharing of care between men and women," Broderick says. "Children do better if dads are involved right from the beginning in their baby's care. But we also need to make sure people who don't have children are given the same opportunities, because you may need flexibility for a whole bunch of reasons."

While at Blakes, Broderick began a mentoring program for female university and school students from less-advantaged backgrounds, and initiated female partners' dinners a few times a year. She also ran lunchtime forums for staff on issues like postnatal depression, fertility and career. In the 1990s, discussion of such matters in a big corporate firm was not considered a career-enhancing strategy, says Jane Southward, managing editor of Company Director magazine, who has known Broderick for 15 years.

"A lot of men would come to these sessions," Southward says. "Liz had this ability to be really warm and open with men and women about issues that weren't being talked about that openly in the workplace at that time." Southward says that while many women of Broderick's generation instinctually kept quiet about their family life, for fear of harming their professional reputation, "Liz was like, 'Well this is me. Work, life, it's got be merged.'" She credits Broderick with teaching her to speak positively about work in front of her children, instead of beating herself up about missing school assembly because of a meeting, or vice versa. "Her ability to be open about failings or challenges makes it more likely that you'll open up yourself," says Southward. "It's that personal style that makes it unsurprising she is a national and international success."

Advertisement
With her twin sister Jane Latimer.

With her twin sister Jane Latimer.Credit:James Brickwood

In 2007, John Howard appointed Broderick Sex Discrimination Commissioner. Her term was renewed twice, once by the Rudd government, once by the Abbott government, so she ended up serving until 2015. "She wasn't a political pick," says Pip Dargan, deputy director of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Organisations, who came to know Broderick as commissioner. "Nobody really knew Liz. She was a partner in a law firm. She wasn't hanging out with the Libs or Labor."

During her term, Broderick initiated her Male Champions strategy, led a review into gendered discrimination in the defence force following the notorious 2011 Skype incident at the Australian Defence Force Academy, where a cadet secretly filmed a sexual encounter and broadcast it to his mates, and joined with ACTU leader Sharan Burrow, and Australian Industry Group leader Heather Ridout, to build consensus for a national paid parental leave scheme (introduced in 2011 by the Labor government). Dargan, who counts Broderick as a friend, was particularly impressed when she convinced then-Army chief David Morrison to address the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women, in 2012. "Chiefs of army don't go to UN stuff for women. It was like a rock star event in that world."

When she commenced the role, Broderick embarked on a "listening tour" which involved meeting a group of Indigenous women in Western Australia's Fitzroy Valley. They included June Oscar, now the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner. "Picture the Kimberley in north Western Australia – Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek, red soil, bright blue sky – some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen," Broderick says. "But in the early 2000s, it was an area ravaged by alcohol and violence, including domestic and sexual violence."

The women were on a campaign to get alcohol restrictions in the area, and in 2009 they travelled with Broderick to the UN to tell their story of rebuilding their community to the world. "June opened her presentation by speaking in the Bunuba language, her native language, saying, 'This is the first time that the peoples of the world will have ever heard the language of my people', and went on to tell the story of the women of Fitzroy Crossing," Broderick recounts.

"It was one of the magical moments of my career. I still remember it was snowing when we arrived in New York in March 2009; it was the first time the women had seen snow." Says June Oscar: "I admire Liz greatly and her commitment is genuine. She was very open to being educated and informed by us as Indigenous women. She established a relationship with us so she could become a champion for Indigenous women in remote Australia. She used her influence and her networks to draw attention to our issues." Oscar says her relationship with Broderick is "life-long".

Elizabeth Broderick with some of Australia’s top corporate leaders at a Male Champions of Change event in Sydney in 2013.

Elizabeth Broderick with some of Australia’s top corporate leaders at a Male Champions of Change event in Sydney in 2013.Credit:Louie Douvis

Redressing the global suffering of women and girls: it's quite a big job. Broderick and her fellow UN Special Rapporteurs – four other female experts of diverse backgrounds from Croatia, Costa Rica, Nepal and Ethiopia – report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on discrimination against more than half the world's population. A shopping list of the abuses they've reported on so far includes the rape and assault of women in refugee camps, kidnapping of schoolgirls by Boko Haram, inhumane prison conditions for women in Chad (where they're often imprisoned while awaiting a court decision), the jailing in Catholic El Salvador of women who have miscarried (they're accused of aborting their babies), African women who die from the lack of basic obstetric care, and laws seeking to introduce a total ban on abortion in Poland. Then there are the horrors of Islamic State: rape, murder, sexual subjugation.

In March, Broderick begins global consultations for her first big UN report, on women's rights at work, then in April she'll embark on her first country visit, to Greece, which is experiencing an influx of asylum seekers fleeing conflict in the Middle East. She'll spend two weeks on the ground visiting government officials, women's rights advocates and asylum-seekers, focusing on the vulnerability of female refugees to assault, and their lack of access to reproductive health services.

With Hillary Clinton at a Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Group event in 2015.

With Hillary Clinton at a Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Group event in 2015.Credit:Courtesy of Elizabeth Broderick

Part of the rapporteurs' work is to write "Official Communications" to heads of state, letting them know the UN is aware of human rights violations. Recently, Broderick had to write one to the government of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, asking questions about the arrest and detention in 2018 of Saudi university student and women's rights activist Noha Al-Balawi.

"The guy on the hook for the murder of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi?" I ask.

"Yeah, that one," she says.

Would someone like him read, let alone take note of, such a letter?

"I kind of had this, 'Why am I even bothering?' Like, hello?' " Broderick concedes with a laugh, before getting serious. "Then I thought, 'I have to reframe how I think about impact, because if I am expecting to take a particular action and have an immediate and direct response, that's actually an illusion at the level at which I am now working, a global systems level.'" So Broderick came up with a more positive way to perceive the work.

"There may be a moment in the history of that nation when that leader wants to move the nation forward, and they will link onto something," she says. "It may be this letter they will use to do that. Our letter will matter."

How much does an activist engage with the systems of power she is trying to tear down? It is a question Broderick had already confronted, when she created the Male Champions of Change initiative as Sex Discrimination Commissioner. The program was, and is, controversial, some arguing that it elevates men as heroes for doing what they should have done years ago, namely, appointing women to boards and executive positions.

Nareen Young, a professor of Indigenous policy at the University of Technology Sydney, was CEO of the Diversity Council Australia during Broderick's tenure as Sex Discrimination Commissioner. She is complimentary of Broderick but sceptical of the Male Champions strategy. "I'm not sure it's anything more than window dressing, and elevating men for the sake of it, in a discussion that should be led by women," she says. "I was [also] very concerned as a long-term activist around women and work issues, that [Broderick's] focus as Sex Discrimination Commissioner seemed to be women on boards. That applies to a minute number of women in the workforce. I was very surprised there wasn't more push-back around her focus on the top end of town."

Broderick is aware of the criticism and rejects it: politely, of course. "I hear what Nareen says," she says. "I think she has a valid point. Male Champions of Change is focused on the top end of town, but it's focused there for a reason, because it's about shifting power, and opening up space to share it equally with women. It is just one strategy."

Giam Swiegers was one of the first men Broderick nervously cold-called on her hunt for Male Champions (there are now more than 200 of them, from corporate Australia through to the military, sport and public service, and it's now a not-for-profit organisation with its own CEO and board). At the time, in 2011, Swiegers was CEO of Deloitte Australia (he now heads Aurecon). Their conversation, he recounts, "was all of 30 seconds. She is very persuasive." Swiegers signed up, which means paying membership fees and attending meetings four times a year, taking the "panel pledge" of not speaking on all-male panels or calling it out if you found yourself on one, and making your company's gender-equality data transparent.

Swiegers encountered internal criticism from his female employees. "A lot of our women said, 'This is so arrogant, men wanting to fix women.' But we were never seeking the silver bullet. We realised that what we were doing was very hard. The hardest part was trying to work out why it wasn't working." Broderick says the Male Champions would lament how quickly their percentages would drop off when senior women resigned, and would go into "group therapy mode" about it. "I'm convinced that, if one day this problem of reaching true gender equality is solved, there is no person in Australia who has played a more important role than Liz," says Swiegers.

Elizabeth Broderick in Papua New Guinea last September, during the launch of an initiative to tackle family and sexual violence.

Elizabeth Broderick in Papua New Guinea last September, during the launch of an initiative to tackle family and sexual violence. Credit:Courtesy of Elizabeth Broderick

It's easy to forget that, just a decade ago, the F-word was not popular in high-level business circles. David Thodey, former CEO of Telstra, was another early member. "I can still remember a time when I thought I should not continue, as our gender leadership metrics were not changing quickly enough and we were not meeting our targets," he recounts. Broderick persuaded him to stay, arguing that it was "important for male leaders to show tenacity and be leaders, despite the challenges".

Last November the program launched in Pakistan, with 10 CEOs and a female advisory panel with "some of those amazing Pakistani feminists", the latter "to see that it's all about action, not talking". Leaders in India and the Philippines have also expressed interest, and in January Broderick jetted to Davos in Switzerland to chair a Male Champions meeting of global tech CEOs, including Federico Marchetti from YOOX Net-a-Porter Group, Jonathan Newhouse from Condé Nast and Lord Tony Hall from the BBC. The men made the panel pledge, committed to lifting the number of female leaders in the tech sector, and published in the Financial Times a full-page "open letter to every male leader in the tech sector" to join them.

"We will work in any nation where there is a strong patriarchy," says Broderick. "Well, hello?!" she says. "That would have to be every nation in the world."

Elizabeth Broderick at the UN speaking on behalf of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls.

Elizabeth Broderick at the UN speaking on behalf of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls.Credit:Courtesy of Elizabeth Broderick

Broderick is excited by #MeToo and the global flowering of feminism that brought it forth. When I mention it, she leaps delightedly on her notes; she has just this morning written down a quotation from Tarana Burke, the African-American grassroots activist who began the movement. She reads it to me reverentially. But she sees clouds on the horizon, too. "How safe is it for women to attach their names to it?" she asks. "When [Burke] conceived it, it was about transformation of the system that allowed sexual violence to occur … but where #MeToo has come to is the individuals." In focusing on the "white, wealthy Harvey Weinsteins", we risk ignoring hospitality and domestic workers, she says, or women in residential university colleges, like the ones at Sydney University Broderick reported on, as a private consultant, in 2018 (some have criticised this report as a whitewash which didn't include enough testimony from assault victims. Broderick says she could not include detailed victims' stories without identifying them).

Broderick believes men are trapped by traditional roles. "I was part of a generation of girls who was told, 'You can do anything,' but I don't think a corresponding message was given to boys about having a strong role in caring. Most men have been forced to choose." Many men have nevertheless been "imperfect allies" to women, she says, and need to examine their own past behaviour. "They need to listen to the stories of women and talk to them about what action they can take." She worries that men's fear of mis-stepping in the current climate will lead to a shutting-down of the "informal sponsorship of women" that can be so crucial to careers.

"When I look back on my own career, it was decent, beautiful men who informally sponsored me. They showed me the rules of the game. That's what helped me build my career. It wasn't the only thing but it helped me. And if that's shut down, women are more excluded from power than they were before."

We discuss the experiences of Catherine Marriott, who accused former Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce of sexual harassment, and Eryn Jane Norvill, who made a confidential complaint of inappropriate conduct against actor Geoffrey Rush, and Ashleigh Raper, the ABC journalist who said former NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley touched her inappropriately at a function. "None chose to tell their story," Broderick says. "When I speak to less high-profile women and ask them to speak up, they say, 'Liz, not only would I be the victim of the incident, I would be the victim of not bringing it to the attention of management.'"

Elizabeth Broderick in her home.

Elizabeth Broderick in her home.Credit:Tim Bauer. Hair and make-up by Giorgia Skye using Charlotte Tilbury.

Broderick does ponder how real change can happen within the unwieldy global bureaucracy of the UN. A friend recently remarked to her that "it must feel a bit like stirring wet cement with your eyelashes" – and she says "there are days when that's absolutely the case". But her natural optimism always wins out.

"There will be push-back, times when it seems no one is listening, when it seems no one cares, times when I start to lose hope. And that can seem overwhelming. But I also believe this is my work to do. I know Australia has much to offer. We come with new ideas, new energy and an absolute determination. That's the change I want to be part of."

To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.

Jacqueline is a senior journalist, columnist and former Canberra press gallery sketch writer for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Most Viewed in National

Loading