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Gender equality

Partnerships for Recovery and gender equality


This page will provide an overview of how Australia is working in partnership to progress gender equality as a cross-cutting objective across all three pillars of Partnerships for Recovery. It will outline key related initiatives and summaries of programming and related documents.

Gender Equality Fund

$65 million, 2020-21

In 2015–16, Australia established the Gender Equality Fund to strengthen work on gender equality and women's empowerment in the aid program. The Fund maintains flagship investments that promote gender equality in the Pacific and South-East Asia, and supports innovative, new investments both within country programs and both  within country programs and regionally or globally, including through partnerships with the private sector and civil society. It plays an important role in reshaping Australia's development program to drive stronger gender equality performance and results.

To support gender responsive COVID-19 efforts, the Gender Equality Fund received an additional $10 million in FY2020/21. The Gender Equality Fund supports gender equality investments and global commitments to advance international efforts on critical gender equality issues, including ending violence against women and girls, women’s economic empowerment, and enhancing women’s voice in peace building and leadership.

Ending violence against women and girls

Australia is supporting to UN Women to deliver activities focused on prevention, essential services and support for local women’s organisations to end violence against women and girls, particularly in response to the intensification of gender based violence during and following the COVID-19 crisis.

Specific activities funded include:

  • support for women’s organisations responding to COVID-19 through the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women COVID-19 funding window,
  • delivery of prevention activities in the Indo-Pacific specifically targeted at addressing the intensification of violence that is being reported during the COVID-19 crisis, and continuation of these activities as part of the COVID-19 recovery phase,
  • support for the UN Joint Programme for Essential Services in the Indo-Pacific to ensure frontline services are able to identify and effectively respond to gender-based violence during and following the crisis.

Australia also supports the UN Population Fund initiative, kNOwVAWdata, a partnership between UNFPA, DFAT, the University of Melbourne and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) to strengthen regional and national capacity to measure violence against women (VAW). The kNOwVAWdata initiative is supporting the appropriate and effective capture and analysis of VAW prevalence data during and following the COVID-19 pandemic to inform policy and program responses.

Women’s economic empowerment

We know that the economic downturn as a result of COVID-19 is having a disproportionate effect on women and girls.

Australia supports various activities to enhance women’s economic empowerment, including the flagship Investing in Women Initiative (AUD102 million, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar; 2016 – 2023).

Investing in Women is a multi-country program with an innovative, long-term approach to improving women's economic participation as employees and as entrepreneurs, and influencing the private and public sector environment to promote women's economic empowerment in Southeast Asia. The program operates in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar, and works directly in collaboration with corporations and business leaders, impact investors, entrepreneurs and advocates, in driving change for inclusive economic growth in the region. It intends to achieve this through working with formal businesses by shifting workplace cultures, practices and policy barriers to workplace gender equality; partnering with impact investors to expand opportunities for women in small and medium enterprises; and through influencing gender norms to support women’s economic empowerment.

Investing in Women has moved quickly to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The program is working closely with its partners to understand the impact of the pandemic on their organisations and operating environments, and responding to the economic impacts on women. This includes the provision of emergency relief to support women’s small and medium enterprises through immediate financial pressures resulting from the pandemic, adapt their businesses to manage the impact of COVID-19, and ensuring their continued operation and contribution to the resilience of local economies. Investing in Women’s business coalitions for workplace gender equality are supporting companies with COVID-19 impact assessments, and reviewing their Gender Action Plans to adjust and respond to COVID-19 – for example through Flexible Working Toolkits. Investing in Women surveyed 6000 millennial men and women in Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam to capture insights into gender norms around work and care during the pandemic, and support civil society campaigns utilise the findings.

The program’s response to COVID-19 and its ongoing work will contribute to economic growth in the region, and a sustainable and inclusive COVID-19 recovery that accounts for both the disproportionate impacts of the economic downturn on women, and also harnesses their agency to contribute to and benefit from economic recovery measures.

Enhancing women’s voice in peace building and leadership

Since 2015, Australia has been a donor to UN Women in support of its two key Women Peace and Security (WPS) funds: the WPS Global Facility and the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund. Under Partnerships for Recovery, Australia has recommitted to the WPS agenda.

The WPS Global Facility

  • This program supports various activities including on preventing and countering of violent extremism, supporting women in peacekeeping operations through training and barrier assessments, strengthening leadership and peacebuilding capacity of young women, and promoting regional and multilateral cooperation and knowledge sharing amongst diverse stakeholders on the WPS agenda. Australia has provided AUD11 million in funding to the Global Facility, including our most recent additional commitment under Partnerships for Recovery.

Women, Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF)

  • This program, formerly The Global Acceleration Instrument for WPS and Humanitarian Action, was established in 2016 to help provide predictable, accessible and flexible funding for women’s civil society organisations working on peace and security at all levels. Australia was a founding donor and supporter for the WPHF. Since 2016, we have provided annual contributions to a total of AUD5.25 million, making us the fourth largest donor.

Gender data

Australia's policy engagement and investments are strengthening the capacity to collect, analyse and make accessible statistics about gender equality and the empowerment of women. High-quality data is vital in enabling governments in our region to ensure their responses to COVID-19 are effective for all, and ‘build back better’ for women and girls. Australia is supporting innovative statistical programs that tackle complex indicators such as the prevalence of violence against women and the scale of unpaid work.

Australia is funding UN Women's flagship program on better gender statistics for evidence-based localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 'Making every woman and girl count: supporting the monitoring and implementation of the SDGs through better production and use of gender statistics'. Working with partner governments, international agencies and other actors, and building on existing initiatives, the program will assist governments to collect, analyse and use good gender data.

Related documents *

Name of document Year published
Australia Advancing Women's Economic Empowerment through Aid, Trade and Economic Diplomacy 2017
Safe homes and safe communities: Australia's commitment to ending all forms of violence against women and girls 2016

Women, Peace and Security


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