October 29th, 2022Human rights speaker
Hepburn Shire U3A’s AGM guest speaker is Elaine Pearson, the director of Human Rights
Watch’s Asia Division, overseeing the work of the division in more than 20 countries, based
Ms Pearson joined Human Rights Watch in 2007 and was formerly the deputy director of
the Asia Division and then established Human Rights Watch’s Australia office, working as the
organisation’s inaugural Australia director from 2013-2022.
She has conducted numerous human rights investigations in the Asia-Pacific region and
around the world. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Ms Pearson worked for the United Nations
and various non-governmental organisations in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kathmandu and
She is an adjunct lecturer in law at the University of New South Wales, on the
advisory committee of UNSW’s Australian Human Rights Institute and on the board
of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women.
Ms Pearson holds degrees in law and arts from Murdoch University and obtained
her Master’s degree in public policy at Princeton University’s School of Public and
She is the author of Chasing Wrongs and Rights, a human rights travelogue,
influenced in part by how her Chinese maternal grandmother had been sold to an
opera troupe to save the family from starvation, published by Simon and Schuster in
September this year.
In Chasing Wrongs and Rights Ms Pearson shares her experiences defending human
rights – from human trafficking in Nepal to the ‘drug war’ in the Philippines to
treatment of detainees in Papua New Guinea and in Australia – offering an extremely
involving personal account of how far the world has come, and how far there is to go.
Growing up in Perth, Ms Pearson always dreamed of the wider world. As soon as
she could, Ms Pearson followed her interest in women’s rights and people-trafficking,
interviewing sex workers and victims of trafficking on the streets of Bangkok and
Amsterdam’s red light district. Her experiences in Nepal and Nigeria profoundly
shaped her understanding of how governments and NGOs need to protect the rights of
victims, as well as how poverty, corruption and war drive trafficking in the first place.
Hepburn Shire U3A’s AGM is on Tuesday, November 8 at the Daylesford Town
Hall. The meeting starts at 10am with Ms Pearson speaking at 10.30am followed by
morning tea. RSVPs to info@u3ahepburnshir