The Australian Government is strongly committed to being at the forefront of efforts to empower women and girls and promote gender equality in the Indo-Pacific region. This is established in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Gender equality and women’s empowerment strategy. The Government has appointed an Ambassador for Women and Girls to advocate on these issues. The Government has also set a target requiring that at least 80 per cent of aid investments, regardless of their objectives, will effectively address gender issues in their implementation.
This strategy establishes three priorities that will guide our work on gender equality:
- Enhancing women’s voice in decision-making, leadership, and peace-building;
- Promoting women’s economic empowerment; and
- Ending violence against women and girls
Implementation of this strategy is underpinned by four commitments. The Department will:
- Integrate gender equality into Australia’s foreign policy;
- Integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment into aid for trade investments and economic diplomacy;
- Invest in gender equality through Australia’s development program;
- Commit to promoting gender equality in our corporate and human resource policies and practices.
We will also ensure our aid program aligns with our international diplomatic efforts by:
- pursuing opportunities for ambitious gender outcomes in regional and multilateral frameworks and take a leadership role in our engagement with gender focussed multilateral organisations and meetings;
- raising gender equality as a priority topic with in all bilateral dialogue with all governments in countries where we work partners (not just those with a focus on gender equality) and ensure we are sharing consistent messages about equality in our bilateral relationships; and
- pursuing public diplomacy opportunities to promote gender equality, including through the media, cultural events, scientific engagement and sport.
We will focus particularly on:
- engaging with national women’s institutions such as women’s ministries and support women’s organisations;
- where machinery is not fully effective, strengthening the ability of that machinery to deliver;
- pursuing the Women, Peace and Security agenda;
- supporting women’s economic empowerment and private sector leadership through dialogue and advocacy; and
- advocating for reforms to eliminate violence against women, improve services for women who have been subjected to violence, and address the unequal attitudes that underpin violence against women.
Gender Equality Fund
The Gender Equality Fund ($50 million in 2015-16) has been established as part of the 2015-16 aid budget to accelerate support for gender equality in the Australian development program. It will support global gender equality initiatives and flagship investments. It will fund, jointly with country and regional programs, investments aimed at advancing gender equality and foster innovative work by private sector and non-government organisations, particularly women’s organisations.
The Gender Equality Fund supports flagship gender equality investments and global commitments to advance international efforts on critical gender equality issues, including ending violence against women and girls, promoting women’s leadership:
- The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. This is a competitive global grant-making mechanism dedicated to addressing violence against women and girls in all its forms.
- The Joint UN Programme on Essential Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence. This global program led by UN Women fills the gap between the agreements made at the international level for responding to violence against women and service delivery at a local level.
- The Global Acceleration Instrument for Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action. It was established as part of UN Women’s WPS Global Facility, in partnership with UN Member States, the UN and civil society, to better coordinate donor support for UN Women’s work on the Women, Peace and Security agenda. This support will build knowledge, advocacy and technical support for inclusive conflict resolution and peace building.
Flagship investments supported by the Fund include the new Investing in Women Initiative aimed at increasing and improving the quality of women’s participation in South East Asian economies. It will support business partnerships to bring together leading private sector organisations in the region to commit to equal employment opportunity and the capital expansion of small and medium enterprises led by and responsive to the needs of women.
The Gender Equality Fund retains a number of existing and planned gender equality programs, including Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development. Pacific Women is a 10 year (2012-2022), AUD320 million program focused on enabling women and men across 14 Pacific nations to improve the political, social and economic opportunities for women.
The Gender Equality Fund has used a competitive funding process to foster innovation and results on gender equality in aid. An internal competitive round is supporting innovation and rewarding high performance in aid investments currently managed and funded by DFAT. The Fund is also supporting proposals through the Business Partnerships Platform. This platform provides dollar for dollar matching grants to businesses and non-government organisations for work that promotes gender equality as good for business and growth, and strengthens connections between civil society and the private sector.
Empowering Indonesian Women for Poverty Reduction program (MAMPU)
Empowering Indonesian Women for Poverty Reduction program (MAMPU) is a four year (2012-2016), AUD60 million program.
MAMPU aims to support gender-interested organisations to form coalitions with the community, government and private sector to find solutions on employment, safe migrant labour, maternal and reproductive health, domestic violence and access to social protection.
The program also works with women parliamentarians to increase their capacity to advocate for positive reforms for women.