Skip to main content

Development assistance in the Pacific

Pacific regional – empowering women and girls

Overview

This page gives an overview of Australia’s work in the gender equality and empowerment sectors under Pillar 1 (Health Security), Pillar 2 (Stability) and Pillar 3 (Economic Recovery) of Australia’s Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response.

Pacific women are hardworking, creative and resilient. They make significant contributions to their societies and economies and there is a growing recognition among governments and the private sector that investing in women and girls has a powerful effect on economic growth and wellbeing. However, women and girls face significant challenges. Up to 60 per cent of women and girls in our region have experienced violence at the hands of partners or family members. The Inter-Parliamentary Union reports that globally, women comprise 25.5 per cent of national parliamentarians (world average as at January 2021), but the percentage of women in Pacific parliaments is currently around 6.4 per cent. Across the Pacific, men outnumber women in paid employment (outside the agricultural sector) by approximately two to one, and men earn 20 to 50 percent more than women.

The Australian Government is strongly committed to being at the forefront of efforts to give women and girls the opportunities and resources to reach their full potential.

Related initiatives

Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development

Up to $320 million, 2012-2013 – 2021-2022

Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) aims to improve the political, economic and social opportunities of Pacific women in 14 Pacific Island countries (PICs). Pacific Women is working with Pacific governments, civil society organisations, the private sector, and multilateral, regional and United Nations agencies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women and girls and exacerbated pre-existing inequalities. During the pandemic crisis gender-based violence has surged; health care accessibility, including sexual and reproductive services, has reduced; and women’s unpaid care work burden has increased.

An Advisory Board comprising twelve prominent Pacific women and men guides the initiative. Australia's Ambassador for Gender Equality is an observer to the Board.

In 2020 Pacific Women pivoted to address the impacts of COVID-19:

Health impacts

Women healthcare workers are at the frontline of the response to this pandemic globally. Ensuring that women health care workers have access to necessary resources to enable them to carry out their vital work safely and effectively was critical. At the same time there was a need to continue other vital healthcare services, including maternal health and childcare.

Women's safety

There was a recognition that levels of violence against women and girls in the region remain unacceptably high. The current pandemic has exacerbated these problems. Mobilising bystanders to prevent and respond to violence was discussed and it was agreed that governments and communities must act to ensure that women and girls are protected from violence, particularly in these challenging times.

Economic impacts and recovery

In the Pacific region, women are overrepresented in sectors and jobs that are impacted significantly by economic downturn associated with the pandemic, such as retail and hospitality. With global supply chains disrupted, women migrant workers and women-led small and medium enterprises have been heavily affected. A number of countries in the region are also dealing with the impact of Cyclone Harold. Despite these challenges, it was acknowledged women would have a vital role to play in the economic recovery of the region.

A summary of Pacific Women's achievements through the country and regional programs is released annually through a Progress Report.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
Delivery Strategy: Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development 2012–2022 2012 Strategy
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Initiative Advisory Board–First Meeting 10 April 2013–Report 2013 Report
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development–Design document 2014 Design document
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Initiative–Advisory Board Terms of Reference (Revised August 2014) 2014 Terms of reference
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Advisory Board - Second Meeting 12 August 2014 - Report 2014 Report
Inception Small Islands States (Federated States of Micronesia, Niue, Tuvalu and Palau) Plan 2014 Plan and design
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Advisory Board - Third Meeting 4 November 2015 - Report 2015 Report
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development First Progress Report 2012-2015 [PDF] 2015 Report
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development–Advisory Board Members 2016 Implementation
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Advisory Board - Fourth Meeting 4 April 2016 - Report 2016 Report
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development–Fact sheet 2016 Fact sheet
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development: Fiji country plan 2013/14 - 2016/17 2016 Country plan
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Progress Report 2015-2016 2016 Report
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Advisory Board - Fifth Meeting 10 November 2016 - Report 2016 Report
Progressing Gender Equality in the Pacific (PGEP) Project: mid-term evaluation and management response 2017 Report and management response
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development–Roadmap, May 2017 2017 Roadmap
The Last Taboo: research on menstrual hygiene management in the Pacific 2017 Reports
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development: 3 year evaluation report and management response 2017 Report and management response
Mid-Term Evaluation of the Pacific Women Parliamentary Partnerships Project 2017 Report and management response
Evaluation of the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Support Unit 2017 Report and management response
Markets for Change independent mid-term review 2018 2018 Report and management response
Cook Islands Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Federated States of Micronesia Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Fiji Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Kiribati Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Marshall Islands Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Nauru Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Niue Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Palau Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Papua New Guinea Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Regional Activities Summary 2019 Plan and design
Samoa Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Solomon Islands Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Tonga Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Tuvalu Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Vanuatu Country Plan Summary 2019 Plan and design
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Summary 2019 Summary
Thematic Brief – Gender and COVID-19 [PDF] 2020 Fact sheet
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development: Six year evaluation report and management response 2020 Report and management response

Related links

Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development

* The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is committed to high standards of transparency and accountability in the management of the Australian aid program through publishing information on our website, including policies, plans, results, evaluations and research. Our practice is to publish documents after the partner government and any other partners directly involved in the delivery of the initiative have been consulted. Not all material published on this site is created by the Australian aid program and therefore not all documents reflect our views. In limited circumstances some information may be withheld for reasons including privacy and commercial sensitivity.

Back to top