Introducing Lauren Burke
A note from Kerrie Phipps – I love fresh perspectives, and global perspectives, and you know you’ll get that when you meet a representative to the UN. I sat in a cafe with Lauren yesterday and could’ve stayed all day!
Lauren Burke is passionate about social issues, the advancement of social equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Growing up in Dubbo, Lauren is particularly interested in social issues impacting rural and regional populations. In 2012 Lauren was the UN Women Australia Youth Delegate to the 56th session of the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW56), where the priority theme was ‘The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges. Lauren is currently working to share her learnings from the young Australian women she consulted with prior to CSW56, and the inspirational young women she met while at the event. Lauren now lives and works in Canberra in the Department of the Prime Minister & Cabinet.
Lets get to know Lauren, UN Women Australia Youth Delegate
1. How do you love to explain your work to others?
I have always been interested in social issues and I believe everybody should have access to the same opportunities to be able to live a happy, healthy and productive life. Since moving to Canberra in 2009, I have been involved with UN Women Australia, and I have learnt that gender equality is a fundamental pillar of social equality.
Knowing some of the issues that face populations in rural and regional areas, such as limitations of access to critical services, I am acutely aware that empowering women can be even more challenging in some of these areas. I applied to be UN Women Australia’s Youth Representative for CSW56, excited about the priority theme that was focused on empowering rural women, and the opportunity to represent the thoughts, views and perspectives of young Australian women, particularly those from rural and regional areas.
2. Who are your biggest supporters?
My family has always been the strongest support anybody could ask for. Since I was a young child I have been encouraged to aim and aspire for nothing less than absolutely everything I can dream of. And they have always shown complete and unfaltering belief that I can achieve everything I put my mind to, and that they are proud of everything I do. Since late in high school, my fiancée Ben has been my biggest supporter, encouraging me to go and get anything I want, all the while knowing that he will be right beside me, and helping me to pick up the pieces when I bite off a little more than I can chew! I also have a large, close and diverse group of friends who I learn from every day and who have always got my back.
3. How did you move from dreamer to achiever?
I have long had a vast array of interests; at school, for example, I was in a very large number of music groups, netball teams, other sporting groups, debating teams, and involved in student politics. My poor parents spent so many hours in the car driving me to and from all my activities!
I have learnt that I am always going to be most successful and happy when following my interests. I followed my interest in government and international relations, and particularly health policy into University and then into a job I love in the public service in Canberra. I followed my interest in social issues to volunteer with UN Women Australia, and my interest in the issues facing rural populations to apply for UN Women Australia’s Youth Representative position. I am always learning from the people I meet, work with and volunteer with and discovering more opportunities to pursue.
4. Tell us more about your interest in social issues?
One of the reasons I am so interested in social issues and matters that affect the livelihoods of people, is because I am passionate about community. Growing up in Dubbo, and since leaving to live in Sydney, Scotland and Canberra, I have realised how important a strong community spirit is to me. Of course, community doesn’t have to be just about a particular location, but also about like-mindedness, or a shared interest. This is where I think the biggest shift has occurred in recent times – a ‘community’ can now be global. And the benefits of this can be invaluable, for example the global community dedicated to advancing gender equality being able to sharing their knowledge, experiences and passion throughout the world; those who have more opportunities being able to assist and advocate for those with less. I have also has a strong drive to give back to my communities for the opportunities I have been given, and that is exactly why, prior to CSW56 I came to Dubbo and the western region to talk to consult with young women, so that I could represent their views and perspectives on the global stage.
2012 UN Women Australia Youth Representative to the Commission on the Status of Women