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Elizabeth Reid, 1989

Jenny Darling

oil on canvas (frame: 82.5 cm x 82.5 cm, support: 76.0 cm x 76.0 cm)
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Elizabeth Reid AO (b. 1942), adviser on women’s and public health policy, lived from her teens in Canberra, where she gained a pioneering public service cadetship in 1960. She studied at the Australian National University before gaining a scholarship to Oxford. Returning to teach at the ANU in the early 1970s, she was active in the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Women’s Electoral Lobby. Against a field of some 400 applicants, she was appointed the prime minister’s Adviser on Women’s Affairs – the first such position created in the world. She pressed for spending on all areas of women’s advancement, from employment to housing. Leaving Australia shortly before the Whitlam Government’s dismissal in 1975, she advised Princess Ashraf Pahlavi of Iran on establishing a Centre for Women and Development and worked in Africa for the United Nations, the Peace Corps and USAID. Reid’s husband was diagnosed HIV positive in 1985. Widowed the following year, she shifted her focus to include development policy around the HIV epidemic. From 1986 to 2000, she again worked internationally with the UN before returning to Canberra and the ANU, continuing to advise on HIV policy and developing the HIV charity program funded by tenor Andrea Bocelli in Papua New Guinea.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Elizabeth Reid 2019

Accession number: 2019.37

Currently on display: Gallery Six (Tim Fairfax Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Jenny Darling

Elizabeth Reid AO (age 47 in 1989)

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