Hevin, a 30-year-old mother of three from Aleppo, with her daughter Selin inside their home in Istanbul.
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“It’s a good feeling to know my donation is going directly to women who need it”

Marie Richardson works for University of Notre Dame supporting student health workers in the Kimberley and is one of the Leading Women Fund’s Founding 50 donors. Here, she shares what brought her to the Fund

You have a background in business and spent many years in financial planning. In your experience, what happens when you give women a greater degree of financial empowerment?

“For a long time, my client base was men who worked in mining. I decided that a condition of taking on any new client was that both partners – the husband and wife – would come to meetings. That wasn’t standard in those days, at all, but it worked – it worked from the point of view that they started to make joint decisions and those were better decisions.”

What difference did it make?

“The men used to make what I’d call big bets; they’d take a position on a financial investment and bet the firm on it. Whereas women were more likely to ring-fence funds to mitigate risk. They researched decisions better. And if a woman took over the portfolio, that’s when it really started to work.”

Was it this experience in the finance world that attracted you to the LWF?

“Not initially – it was the callout that [LWF Ambassador] Janine Allis issued online. It was the beginning of the pandemic and I was pretty new to this area of WA. I’ve always been a hands-on volunteer and I couldn’t do that – I couldn’t get out to the communities to help. So I felt a bit lost and the LWF provided a way to contribute. But I do like the financial empowerment that cash assistance gives to the refugee women who receive it – it’s really important.

I also loved the idea of the Connecting Worlds app – the knowledge that someone at the other end of the app was benefitting from our donations. As I’ve said before, for the price of a new dress each month, a dress I don’t need, my money can go towards paying another woman’s rent. It’s a good feeling to know my donation is going directly to women who need it.”

Marie Img 6788
Leading Women Fund donor Marie Richardson

How do you feel about the LWF now, two years in?

“I think it has a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to getting more involved this year, particularly as borders have reopened! I’d love to come to a Sydney event in person, particularly as I’m hoping to have a bit more time on my hands in the future.”

What do you have planned for the next year or two?

“I’m working on two books. One is the story of money, from the perspective of the decade that you’re in. The other is focussed on genealogy. After my mother died, I learnt that Bill, the man I’d thought was my Dad, wasn’t actually my biological father. It wasn’t a total shock as there were aspects of my personality that I felt didn’t quite fit, but I didn’t start properly looking into my ancestry for a long while after Bill also passed away.

I discovered the identity of my biological father in 2019 , which took me from being the oldest child to the middle of 11. My step-siblings are in Scotland, England, Canada and Spain, and I haven’t had the chance to meet them in-person yet, although we’ve exchanged phone calls and chatted online. My step-sister Pam has plans for a big reunion, but really I just want to get over there and spend some time with them.”

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