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Gender equality

Australia’s international support for gender equality

The Australian Government has a steadfast and ongoing commitment to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, with a focus on:

  • ending sexual and gender-based violence
  • advancing women’s economic empowerment
  • enhancing women’s leadership
  • strengthening women’s and girls’ access to and influence on essential services, including in health and education
  • implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that responses to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic deliver positive impacts for women and girls. The COVID crisis is an opportunity to build back better, with women’s and girl’s human rights at the centre.


Partnerships for Recovery

Partnerships for Recovery sets out Australia’s development response to COVID-19. With a focus on the Indo-Pacific region, the response prioritises people in vulnerable situations, including women and girls. Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, as an international advocate for gender equality and the human rights of women and girls, has an integral in advancing this agenda.

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Gender Equality Fund

$65 million, 2022-23 [budget estimate]

$65 million, 2021-22 [budget estimate]

$65 million, 2020-21 [budget actual]

In 2015, 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 investments at country, regional and global levels, including through partnerships with the private sector and civil society. The Gender Equality Fund plays an important role in shaping Australia's development program to drive strong gender equality performance and results.

To support gender-responsive COVID-19 efforts, the Gender Equality Fund received an additional $10 million in the financial year 2020-21, increasing the total to $65 million.

Ending violence against women and girls

$10 million, 2020-2022

Australia is supporting 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 under this investment include:

  • grant support for women's organisations responding to gender-based violence during 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 Global Programme for Essential Services for Women and Girls subject to violence to ensure frontline services are able to identify and effectively respond to gender-based violence during and following the COVID-19 crisis in the Indo-Pacific. Target countries are Cambodia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

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Women's Economic Empowerment

Australia supports various activities to enhance women's economic empowerment, promoting 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.

Investing in Women

$102 million, 2016-23

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.
With its partners, Investing in Women has moved quickly to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. This includes emergency relief to support women's small and medium enterprises through immediate financial pressures, 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 to utilise the findings.

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Women's World Banking

$19.9 million, 2016-2024

Women's World Banking (WWB) is a leading global organisation on women's financial inclusion, giving low-income women increased access to financial tools and resources. DFAT has partnered with WWB for activities in Southeast Asia since 2016 ($4.5 million) and provided core funding ($9.3 million) for global activities. An extension to the partnership ($6.1 million, 2020-24) supports COVID-19 economic recovery and resilience efforts in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia).
COVID-19 has demonstrated the heightened relevance and increased urgency of WWB's work to help women build financial security and resilience to shocks, through access to savings products, credit and capital for their businesses, micro-insurance and secure digital financial products (including government social protection payments). WWB aims to reach at least one million women in Southeast Asia through financial solutions that are relevant to their needs, reduce their risk of falling into poverty, and enables them to fully engage in productive economic activities and contribute to an inclusive and sustainable post-COVID recovery. WWB also works to influence governments and engages with policy makers to overcome barriers to women's financial inclusion and is researching the impact of financial inclusion on women's economic empowerment.

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Women, Peace & Security

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 UN Women Global Facility for WPS

$11 million, 2015-2022

The WPS Global Facilitysupports the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the broader WPS agenda. The Facility is designed to address the challenges of limited funding and technical support available to communities and local women's organisations in conflict affected and fragile environments. The Global Facility allows for flexibility and efficient responses to emerging trends and needs based on evidence. Australia is one of thirteen donors to the Facility and has provided $11 million in funding since its inception in 2015, including our most recent additional commitment under Partnerships for Recovery.
Specific activities under this investment include:

  • various activities on preventing and countering of violent extremism, including expansion of the Indonesian Peace Villages initiative, a community-driven approach to support local women as peace mediators to strengthen social cohesion, tackle violent extremism and empower communities
  • support for the Elsie Initiative on women in peacekeeping which seeks to address systemic barriers to women's meaningful participation in peacekeeping operations
  • delivery of the Female Military Officers' Course to ensure female military personnel have specialised training on the unique challenges faced by women during peacekeeping operations
  • activities to enhance the role of justice and security services to meet the needs of women in conflict and post-conflict settings.

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 $5.25 million, making us the fourth largest donor.

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Gender data

Australia's policy engagement and investments are strengthening capacities to collect, analyse and make accessible statistics on gender equality and the empowerment of women. Improvements in gender data support progress in such areas as women's health and wellbeing, women's workforce participation, and ending violence against women. In addition, high-quality data are critical for enabling governments in our region to ensure their responses to COVID-19 are effective for all.

Australia funds UN Women's global flagship program on better gender statistics, Women Count ($6.5 million, 2016-2021). Working with partner governments, international agencies and other actors, the Women Count assists governments to collect, analyse and use good gender data, including to monitor progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Women Count conducted rapid gender assessment surveys to determine the impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls.

To meet the increasing need and demand for data, Australia also funds UN Women to implement Building Back Better: Promoting a gender data-driven response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Pacific and South East Asia ($3.5 million, 2021-2022). This initiative provides important support to countries in the Pacific and South East Asia in their efforts to address the impacts of the pandemic, and to ensure their responses are data-driven and improve the lives of women and girls.

In addition, Australia has been at the forefront of supporting a move towards multidimensional, gender-sensitive data, and poverty measurement that can accurately capture gender inequalities. Through a partnership with the International Women's Development Agency, Australia supports Equality Insights ($2 million, 2020-2022). This program aims to make gender-sensitive, individual-level, multidimensional data accessible to governments and decision-makers, improving the evidence available to them for COVID-19 recovery efforts that advance gender equality.

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Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality (UFGE)

$16 million, 2013-2027

The World Bank Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality (UFGE) invests in research and experimentation, accompanied by impact evaluations and data collection to fill knowledge gaps and identify what works. The UFGE is an important catalyst for work that pushes frontiers of knowledge on gender equality and promotes policy that supports effective development assistance. Australia supports the East Asia and Pacific Gender Innovation Laboratory (EAPGIL) and Get2Equal project.

EAPGIL carries out impact evaluations and research to generate evidence of what works in closing gender gaps in access to economic opportunities and assets, services, and voice and agency, and how closing these gaps can help achieve broader development outcomes. An integral part of EAPGIL's work is strengthening the gender capacities of World Bank project teams and partners, to strengthen projects, policies and advocacy, contributing to the sustainability and efficacy of activities. Target countries include Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

The International Finance Corporation-managed Get2Equal project partners with the private sector, research institutes, academia, governments and development partners to grow demand for gender-smart initiatives. Get2Equal seeks to understand the barriers women face in accessing more and better jobs and tests solutions through client engagement.

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United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)

$31.1 million, 2016-2021

Australia provides UN Women with annual core voluntary contributions guided by the Strategic Partnership Framework between the Australian Government and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) 2016-2020. The Framework identifies areas of shared objectives, including performance — delivery representing good value for money in the Indo-Pacific region and globally; implementation of global agreements, norms, policies and standards; strengthening the UN system's response to gender equality; leadership, peacebuilding and security; women's economic empowerment; ending violence against women; engaging with women's organisations, disability inclusive development and private sector and innovation.
Specific activities under this investment include:

  • supporting gender mainstreaming across other UN bodies
  • advocacy through supporting intergovernmental bodies, in particular the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), and the private sector
  • complementing Australia's work in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly women's economic empowerment, ending violence against women, addressing the gender data gap, leadership and participation, and peace and security.

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