Fijian Australia Awards Women Leading and Influencing (WLI) alumna Laisani Macedru has established a mentoring program to support Fijian women law students and junior lawyers while “giving back” to the legal profession.
The program was developed with the Fiji Women Lawyers Association (FWLA) and inspired and guided by Laisani's own mentorship with Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea AM through the WLI.
Laisani hopes the FWLA mentoring program will increase emerging women lawyers’ exposure to the various sectors of the legal profession while providing an avenue for “continual guidance and networking” and opportunities for seasoned lawyers to “impart knowledge and experience” and “give back to the profession”.
Laisani is an experienced legal professional, Manager Legal for the Fiji National Provident Fund (Fiji’s sole superannuation fund with a total asset portfolio of $7.9 billion) and President of the FWLA.
While on-Award in Australia, Laisani earned her Master of Commercial Law from Monash University and became an inaugural participant of the 2018 Women’s Developmental Leadership Program (formerly the WLI Leadership and Mentoring program).
Passionate about using her experiences to empower and support young women leaders, Laisani has long felt that Fijian women lack strong professional networks, often downplay their strengths and achievements, and are under-represented in executive roles.
While on the WLI program, Laisani worked closely with her WLI mentor, Dr Evans-Galea, an experienced scientist and board director passionate about inclusion and diversity.
“I learned so much from [Dr Evans-Galea] in terms of leadership during our coffee catch ups in Melbourne,” Laisani explains, “We worked on the mentoring project together, where she shared her insights on her own experience at the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.”
To celebrate the program launch on Friday 9 September 2022, prominent women lawyers - including the first woman President of Fiji Law Society, Laurel Vaurasi, senior lawyer Renee Lal, and former Magistrate Naomi Raikac - came together with FWLA and their mentees.
“While plans to have a mentoring program was proposed to the Association in 2018 while still in Melbourne and part of the WLI program, it took time,” explains Laisani, due to COVID-19.
“When I returned to Fiji in 2019, I was voted in as Council Member for FWLA and set my sights on rolling out the program,” adds Laisani, “Looking back, I believe that it was always God's plan for me to launch the program during my first term as President.”
Laisani credits her participation in the WLI program and the mentoring support she received from Dr Evans-Galea for inspiring her not to give up on rolling out the mentoring program.
“As I am sitting now at home to reflect on the journey, I am continuously grateful to the WLI program for instilling in me how to always see the big picture, and how I can give back to the community and help women in my profession become the best that they can be,” says Laisani.
Laisani makes "special mention to my FWLA Council for their shared vision" to establish the mentoring program.
Applications to the Women's Developmental Leadership Program, of which Laisani is an alumna, will open in October 2022.