Driving social change by educating our youth


As former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick AO was responsible for creating significant change in equality for Australian women. But if you ask Elizabeth about her biggest achievement, she’ll tell you it is raising her son to be respectful towards women.

In this interview with Deb conducted during her tenure as Commissioner, Elizabeth talked about the importance of educating our kids on gender equality.

“When people ask me, what will your biggest achievement as Sex Discrimination Commissioner be, it won’t be changing the military or the male champions or anything like that, it will be raising a son who fundamentally believes that equality is the only path,” said Elizabeth.

“I have to say, this is a work progress,” she said.

“But it’s about initially helping him understand that men and women are equal, they’re not the same but they are equal. That respect and dignity should light the heart of every interaction, and that just in the way that boys want to succeed, so equally do girls,” she said. “That caring is everyone’s business, that running a household is everyone’s business.”

As another means to drive social change and educate the youth, Elizabeth ran the gender equality classes at her son’s school and goes on to describe how she explained the concepts and learning objectives to her students.

About Elizabeth Broderick AO

Elizabeth has brought together captains of industry, governments and Defence Force chiefs to address gender inequality in Australia and beyond.

As Australia’s longest serving Sex Discrimination Commissioner (2007-2015), Elizabeth worked tirelessly to break down structural and social barriers faced by women and men, and to promote gender equality.

A key advocate for Australia’s paid parental leave scheme, Elizabeth influenced changes to regulations to increase the numbers of women at decision-making level, and to elevate the voices of women in marginalised communities.

She also established and convenes the globally recognised ‘Male Champions of Change’ strategy, enlisting a ‘who’s who’ of powerful male leaders to tackle workplace gender inequality. She is a powerful and influential voice in the struggle for gender equality, enlisting both women and men as agents of change.

Her review into the treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force led to sweeping cultural reforms. In 2016 Elizabeth was Senior Adviser to the Australian Federal Police Commissioner on cultural change and assisted with implementing a significant cultural change project across the organisation.

She is currently working with The University of Sydney and some Residential Colleges to examine the existing culture of those Colleges and James Cook University on phase two of a project to examine the sexual harassment policies and cultural environment in which the policies are implemented.

Elizabeth is Special Advisor to the Executive Director of UN Women on Private Sector Engagement, Global Co-Chair of UN Global Compact’s Women’s Empowerment Principles and a member of the International Services for Human Rights and Australian Rugby Union Boards.

In 2016 Elizabeth was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia and was named 2016 NSW Australian of the Year. She holds Honorary Doctorates of Law from the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Technology Sydney and Deakin University.

Learn more about Elizabeth Broderick

Balance Team

This article was written by the brains trust of Balance . We are a talented team of writers and contributors with real life experience and a passion for finding balance.

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  1. Pingback: Demeaning sex talk in the workplace is not okay - my Don Burke experience - Balance by Deborah Hutton

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