Born in a small Welsh coal mining town, Julia Gillard is the youngest of two children. Her father was a police officer who had to give up his pursuit of higher education because he could not afford it. Her parents emigrated to Australia when she was four “to make sure my sister and I got a better life and a better education,” says Gillard. “That’s why education, compared with any other opportunity which may or may not have come my way, really fits centrally with what I’ve believed in and what I’ve wanted to do.”
Julia Gillard was Prime Minister of Australia between 2010 and 2013 and was central to the successful management of Australia’s economy, the 12th biggest economy in the world, during the global financial crisis and as Australia positioned itself to seize the benefits of Asia’s rise.
Ms. Gillard, the first woman Prime Minister of Australia, delivered nation-changing policies including reforming Australia's education at every level from early childhood to university education, creating an emissions trading scheme, improving the provision and sustainability of health care, aged care and dental care, commencing the nation’s first-ever national scheme to care for people with disabilities and restructuring the telecommunications sector as well as building a national broadband network. In foreign policy, Ms Gillard strengthened Australia’s alliance with the United States, secured a stronger architecture for the relationship with China, upgraded Australia’s ties with India and deepened ties with Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.
Ms. Gillard retired from political life following the 2013 Australian national election.
Following her passion for education, in February 2014 she became the board chair of the Global Partnership for Education, the only multilateral partnership that unites donor countries, developing countries, civil society organizations, teacher groups and the private sector to improve global access to education and improve its quality.
“All my life I have been driven by my strong belief that every child should have access to a high quality education. Education changes lives. I know that it changed mine. No child should be denied the transformative power of a great education,” Gillard said when appointed.
She also serves as a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and its Centre for Universal Education and as a Honorary Professor at the University of Adelaide.