Having experienced the effects of gender inequality in her own life, and witnessed things change for the better over time, Plan International Australia supporter Lorraine Hall wants the same progress for girls around the globe.
Now in her early 60s, Lorraine is very aware of her privilege and the opportunities that education afforded her, “I was fortunate to take on uni in the late 70s during the Whitlam era,” she explains. “I received a free education at ANU. I later realised not every girl would have had that experience. Not every girl gets the chance to achieve and dream like I did. I was raised by parents who supported my goal to become a lawyer. There was no difference between the way my brothers and I were treated. We were all encouraged to complete university and have a career.”
It wasn’t until her first role at a top tier commercial law firm that Lorraine was confronted with the realities of being a woman in a field that was, at the time, dominated by men.
“There were two female partners out of 51 partners,” She says. “Women had to be more successful, exceptional, to be made partners. There were 20 graduates who started at the firm at the same time. In the first 12 months I noticed men got casually invited to more lunches with the partners, which lead to more (high profile) work, more visibility, more promotions, more pay rises. The system supported men over women.”
It was clear to Lorraine that women weren’t being supported to progress at the firm, so she left, and saw gradual improvements in the four workplaces that followed. “I moved to work somewhere that was more diverse, where the firm expected women would have opportunities to progress. Each one was better than the last and that reflects the fact that times had changed.”
Part of Lorraine’s desire to support Plan International Australia comes from this firsthand experience, and from knowing that girls around the globe are facing even greater inequality today, “I mentor young women now who are in their early 30s. We’ve come a long way but there are still challenges for sure. I wish to see the social change that is needed for women to be on the same playing field as men. Millions of people are contributing towards that. I want more people to enable that change and I want to help.”
Lorraine currently sponsors two girls through Plan International Australia, makes regular donations, and signs petitions. Recently when updating her Will with online Will writing service, Safewill, Lorraine decided to leave a gift to support Plan International Australia’s work.
This legacy can help girls, like 19-year-old law student Laurita, to realise their dreams too.
Living high in the Andean mountains of Ecuador, Laurita was on the path to early marriage and motherhood. Until she met a Plan International employee who inspired her.
“I saw a young Indigenous woman driving one of Plan International’s cars,” she explains. “I was very surprised because in our community there are no women like that. I told myself in that moment, when I grow up, I want to be like her. From then on I started taking part in all the activities that she did.”
Laurita learnt about her rights, became a youth leader with Plan International, and now (coincidentally) studies law to help even more people. “My dream is to be able to help people who may lack the resources to pay for attorneys when they’re in trouble. I also want to help develop my town, so that children and youngsters have better opportunities in education, health and employment.”
When it came to writing her Will, Lorraine was impressed with the Safewill platform. “We have a saying in the legal industry – ‘a lawyer who acts for themselves has a fool for a client’. Although I’m a lawyer, I didn’t specialise in Estate planning. I knew I needed help to write my Will, so I used Safewill. The end result was a sound Will and I’m very happy with it. The Will is well written and it was checked by a lawyer. So many people pass away without writing a Will and their family ends up worse off. Safewill is free and you can choose who receives your property, instead of the government deciding for you.”
You can write your Will today by visiting Safewill, and if you’d like more information on the impact gifts in Wills can create, please RSVP to our webinar on February 24 2022. Plan International Australia ambassador Jan Fran will interview two graduates of the sponsorship program to see what they are up to and how they are using the benefits of their education to help children in their communities.