For International Women’s Day 2019, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific is celebrating the achievements of the College’s outstanding alumnae. CAP student correspondent Georgie Juszcyzk spoke to CAP alumna Cynthia Banham.
What did you study at ANU and when did you graduate?
I completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Regulation, Justice and Diplomacy at the ANU, graduating in 2015. Before that I completed a Master of International Affairs at the ANU and graduated in 2004.
What inspired you to get into your field and why?
An interest in world affairs and human rights provided the inspiration for all my ANU studies. I began the Masters after moving to Canberra as a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald because I wanted to report on foreign affairs. I started the PhD after a former ANU professor, Chris Reus-Smit, invited me to become a journalist-in-residence at the ANU in the then-International Relations Department.
Who is a woman in your field that you look up to?
Professor Hilary Charlesworth will always be a huge inspiration to me and is someone that I deeply respect and admire for her wisdom and humility. She supervised my PhD and it was an immense privilege to study under her. Her work in feminist international law is path-breaking and she is an amazingly generous scholar.
What was the best thing about studying at ANU?
Studying at the ANU, being such a highly respected institution, opened up many career opportunities for me. I also met wonderful people, some from whom I learnt a lot, some whom became dear friends. Beyond that ANU helped me to rebuild my life after some difficult things happened to me in my job as a journalist and it gave me new purpose and hope for which I’ll always be grateful.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
The day is a reminder of how far we still have to go before we eradicate discrimination against women and women achieve true equality with men. It is also a reminder of some of the wonderful people out there in the world who are tirelessly working towards this goal, such as the aforementioned Professor Charlesworth.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Have courage to follow your gut when it warns you and your heart where it leads you. Do the subjects in high school that actually interest you. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. Have your children younger.
What was your best memory from ANU?
There are many. Finding out my Doctoral thesis had been accepted without revisions was pretty special.
See the full collection of profiles from 2018 and 2019 on our "Inspiring Women of CAP" page.