Illuminate candidate Lydia Berhan was elected unopposed as Curtin Student Guild’s Women’s Officer next year. But what does a Womens’ Officer actually do, and what does Lydia plan to do with her newfound power? 

In her second year  of an Anthropology and Screen Arts degree, Berhan has a passion for human rights. As a founding member and former VP of the Curtin Amnesty Club, she has been involved in campaigns for issues like LGBTQI+ equality, refugee freedom and indigenous rights.

As Women’s Officer, Berhan said her goal was to strengthen the voice of marginalised students and crack down on sexual harassment both on and off campus.

“In the wake of the AHRC’s Respect Now Always report, it’s extremely important to try and create a more vibrant, safe, open space for all races, religion, identifications and abilities,” she said. 

The Guild’s Women’s department is a platform for all female and female identifying Curtin students.

In conjunction with national student organisations like Network of Women Students Australia (NOWSA), the department identifies and responds to issues relevant to women, and runs campaigns and events that aim for gender equality.

“Curtin’s diversity, although wonderful, poses unique challenges for the department as it needs to be as unique as it’s students,” Berhan said.

“I want to find a common ground and strengthen our collective voice, that’s why I put such a strong emphasis on collaboration.

“The many intersections of my identity work as a constant reminder to focus on collectiveness, and to ensure no one is left behind.”

The Womens department also provides safe spaces on campus including a meeting room and a room for mothers and babies.

Berhan said these support services are vital, and that Illuminate representatives have done a great job in the past.

“I want to uplift all women and encourage them to get involved with the department, I’m really excited to see what I can contribute,” she said.

In regards to having no competition in the election, Lydia said it was a little disappointing.

“I do hope more women get involved in Curtin politics in the next election, but it also means I have a little bit of pressure on me to do a top notch job.”