Sharon Pickering speaking at International Women’s Day 2023.

Professor Sharon Pickering’s (1991) commitment to human rights has taken her around the world. Now a respected leader in higher education, she’s enabling the next generation to make an impact across the Indo-Pacific.

Sharon credits her international experiences with shaping the trajectory of her life.

After leaving Ormond, her work in international relations and criminology took her from Northern Ireland to South-East Asia, where she led an Amnesty International study of women’s human rights in the region.

“Human rights remains my passion, especially the rights of women and girls,” Sharon says. “It just does not make sense to not have access to, and celebrate, the brilliance and capabilities of all people.”

As Acting Provost and Senior Vice President of Monash University – and a global expert on criminal justice, migration, and trafficking – Sharon is committed to giving students a culturally well-rounded education.

“I am passionate about the student experience, particularly in relation to graduating the most internationally experienced and culturally competent students regardless of their degree,” she says. “The student experience and the joy of research discovery is what drives me, and I couldn’t be prouder of what Monash has achieved across Australia as well as our campuses in Malaysia, India, China and most recently in Indonesia.”

Monash Pride March, O-Week 2023.

As Acting Provost and Senior Vice-President, Sharon oversees the development and implementation of Monash University’s academic vision. She is a highly respected leader in education, and committed to the contribution that education and research can make to the Indo-Pacific region’s overall success.

“The Indo-Pacific region will be the most contested region of the world over the coming decades, and we need generations of graduates across a wide variety of disciplines to drive innovation but also have the social, economic and cultural understanding to actively contribute to peace and prosperity,” she says.

At Monash, Sharon has nurtured many research and education programs including the recent establishment of the Australian Research Council, Centre of Excellence for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It’s a fitting contribution for a woman whose work has stemmed from a lifelong commitment to human rights, especially those of women and girls.

After graduating from the University of Melbourne in 1994, she spent four years in Belfast, Northern Ireland, amid the Troubles conflict. As part of her doctoral study, she conducted an oral history of 100 women involved in the conflict.

Next, her work took her to South-east Asia. Her research has focused on the intersection of international relations and criminology, and she’s written extensively on sex trafficking, border enforcement and refugee law. She was made professor in 2010 and has held various fellowships and visiting posts around the world.

In 2012, she won the Australian Human Rights Award for print and online media on human rights and asylum and in 2020 received the Australian Financial Review Award for International Education. She has also served as Executive Dean and then Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education).

Sharon says her time at Ormond coincided with significant gender-related debates across the university, which “sharpened” her views on leadership and cultural change. Mostly, she’s grateful for the “extraordinary friendships” she gained while at the College.

“Ormond really has given me a range of extraordinary friendships that have stayed close throughout my life, and supported and inspired me in so many ways,” she reflects.

“Being able to travel life with deeply committed, talented and decent humans is a gift.”

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