Loksee Leung

Research and Evaluation Lead


What did you want to be when you were a kid? 

An archaeologist, until my high school ancient history teacher explained that archaeologists spend most of their early career hauling rocks. Then I had my sights set on becoming an astronaut, until a physics field trip to Wonderland (the now defunct Sydney theme park) gave me severe motion sickness. In my later teenage years, I started to grow more interested in the social sciences. In particular, I was interested in the wealth disparities between countries, so as a young person, I had some sort of notion that international development was the field I wanted to work in.  

What happened in-between?

I spent a few years working on ILO issues for the Australian government. Then, in 2011, I landed a role evaluating a gender-based violence (GBV) project run by International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Vietnam. This was my first introduction to GBV and, in many ways, that was the turning point for me. I knew I wanted to continue contributing in this space. Since then I have worked in South-East Asia and the Pacific on gender equality and VAW. In more recent years, I’ve also been working in the ‘prevention of violence against women’ space in Australia, where a lot of ground-breaking prevention work is currently underway.   

What are you doing now? Do you like that?

As the Research and Evaluation Lead at the EQI, I’m responsible for driving the research and evaluation projects for our organisation. My role is not only about contributing to the growing evidence-base around GBV and gender equality, but also looking at how we, as researchers – and particularly as researchers from high-income countries - can do this work in a locally-led, participatory, ethical, safe, and inclusive way. I love the challenging aspects of this work, the amazing people I get to work with, and the variety of settings we get to work in.

Does the patriarchy get you down? Like, do you ever just feel really annoyed by the way women get treated?

As someone who has chosen to work on the promotion of gender equality, I am part raging cynic and part hopeful optimist. Working in the social justice field means that you are often focusing on some of the worst aspects of society (inequality, discrimination, structural disadvantage, marginalisation, etc.), so it’s difficult not to feel cynical or to occasionally feel overwhelmed. But the optimist in me frequently looks to the positive changes that can, and do, occur. It’s difficult sometimes because the changes we want to see now will actually take generations. While there is still a long way to go with gender equality, we have to keep reminding ourselves that there is a committed global community of feminists out there who are constantly agitating for change, and things are changing.

Who's your fave feminist icon?

In terms of great intersectional feminist writers and activists, I would have to say bell hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Angela Davis have shaped my thinking around gender equality and feminism. Over the years, I’ve also been very fortunate to work with and learn from some amazing women and men who work every day to promote gender equality and end violence against women in their own communities, whether it’s here in Australia or around the world. Some of these individuals work under incredibly challenging circumstances, sometimes risking their own personal safety and security, with very little resources at their disposal. These are the people who have inspired me most in my work.