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Our own data, drawn from our active philanthropists, indicates that gender balance is alive and well when it comes to philanthropic giving.

These include energetic women such as our clients Rosemary Mangiamele and Nadia Badawi AM, who see philanthropy as a means to support opportunities and organisations that make the world a better place.

Did you know women make up 48% of our active philanthropists? They follow a tradition of women in philanthropy, and on this International Women’s Day in 2019, it’s important to remember who they were – as well as what their legacy continues to support.

Phyllis Connor was a client of Equity Trustees for 30 years before she passed away aged 99 in 2010. She was young in the era when movies were black-and-white and zeppelins crossed the sky, but she went on to carve her own path – first working at the State Electricity Commission before enlisting in the Australian Army (1942–1945) where she served as a driver. Intriguingly, towards the latter stages of the war, she was involved in collecting information for defence intelligence. She as an astute investor and left behind the Phyllis Connor Memorial Trust, which continues to fund charitable programs focussed on empowering women and girls.

Indeed, many of the trusts and foundations we manage have a focus on the protection and empowerment of women and girls. The Mary Jane Lewis Scholarship Foundation, for example, provides scholarships to talented and deserving young women to undertake undergraduate studies at various tertiary institutions, complete with wrap-around developmental opportunities such as mentorship, skills workshops and networking events.

Aligned with the 2019 IWD theme Balance for Better are the MJ Gething Gender Equity Awards. This annual awards program will support female researchers at the University of Melbourne’s School of Biomedical Sciences to advance their careers alongside a decision to become parents. Similarly, the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation supports gender equality in the sciences every year by awarding Fellowships to two mid-career scientists – one female and one male – who are conducting promising research (a third fellowship supported by Bellberry is also awarded).

Some of the most important work focuses on those who face the greatest disadvantage. The William Buckland Foundation has supported The St Kilda Gatehouse, which provides a physical space for women sex workers to ensure they have a safe space, feel welcomed and can access support. Older women vulnerable to poverty are the focus of support through the Money for Jam program, supported by the A & M Osborn Charitable Trust and the J R Hartley Charitable Trust.

Just a few others include:

  • Freda Berndt – The Freda May Berndt Family Trust, which provides funding to the The Salvation Army, The Red Cross and The Royal Flying Doctor’s Service. Established 2002.
  • Dr Edie Baldwin – The John and Mary Baldwin Citizenship and Scholarship Foundation for two secondary students. Established 2015.
  • Nora Smith – The Brian Smith Foundation, funding medical research into cancer and other diseases. Established 2010.
  • Evelyn Moffatt – The William J Moffatt 1st AIF Scholarship Fund for a female student. Established 1992.
  • Peggy Cutten – The Ethel Margaret Ewing Cutten Foundation, funding programs involving books, ballet and gardens. Established 1991.
  • Phyllis Pinter – The Nicholas and Phyllis Pinter Trust, funding cancer research. Established 1995.

At Equity Trustees, we’re proud to be associated with so many trusts and foundations that are doing such valuable work in promoting women’s welfare and talents. Happy International Women’s Day!