Gender initiatives


The Australian Government is strongly committed to being at the forefront of efforts to empower women and girls and promote gender equality around the world, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. This commitment is enshrined in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Gender equality and women’s empowerment strategy. In January 2017, the Government appointed the third Ambassador for Women and Girls, Dr Sharman Stone, to advocate on these issues. The Government has also set a target requiring that at least 80 per cent of all aid investments, regardless of their primary objectives, must effectively address gender issues in their implementation.

We will ensure our aid program aligns with our international diplomatic efforts in relation to gender equality by:

  • pursuing opportunities for ambitious gender equality outcomes in regional and multilateral frameworks and taking a leadership role in our engagement with gender focussed multilateral organisations and meetings
  • raising gender equality as a priority topic with in all bilateral dialogues with all governments in countries where we work (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 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

In 2015–16, Australia established the Gender Equality Fund ($55 million in 2017-18) 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 outside DFAT, 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.

Some of the proposals supported in 2016–17 by the Fund include:

  • $1.5 million to support women candidates in local and national elections in Papua New Guinea;
  • $1 million to strengthen the women's rights movement and reduce violence against women in Vanuatu; and
  • $1.1 million to accelerate women's agribusiness enterprise development in Pakistan.
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 and promoting women's leadership, through:

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

This program was established as part of UN Women's Women, Peace and Security 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. It will build knowledge, advocacy and technical capacity for inclusive conflict resolution and peace-building. Australia has contributed AUD5.5 million over five years to the Global Acceleration Instrument, making it the biggest donor and member of the Funding Board.

In 2017–18 the Gender Equality Fund will be $55 million and will support a range of projects including: improving women's influence over the benefits of extractive industries in Papua New Guinea; strengthening women's leadership in Laos; reducing child marriage in Indonesia; and supporting female victims of acid attacks in Bangladesh.

The Fund will continue to underwrite Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development, a 10 year (2012–2022), $320 million program focused on enabling women and men across 14 Pacific nations to improve the political, social and economic opportunities for women.

It will also continue to finance the Investing in Women Initiative—a $46 million, four-year program that promotes economic growth, business development and gender equality in South-East Asia by strengthening employment practices for women, and increasing investment in women-led small and medium enterprises.

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 driving effective policy. Australia is supporting innovative statistical programs that deepen gender-sensitive and multi-dimensional measures of poverty, as well tackling complex indicators such as the prevalence of violence against women and the scale of unpaid work. We are doing this by funding a number of programs including:

  • The Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM): DFAT has partnered with the International Women's Development Agency (IWDA) and the Australian National University (ANU) to deliver IDM (AUD9.5 million, 2016-2020). The IDM is an individual, gender-sensitive and multi-dimensional measure of poverty which overcomes some of the limitations of current household-level measures of poverty. It will improve the global dialogue on gender statistics and can help us to advance the movement towards individual level data on poverty and deprivation.
  • 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.

Australia also works with partner governments, civil society organisations and women's rights organisations at a local level to ensure women are included in peace processes and rebuilding communities, and to prevent and respond to violence against women.

Since 2007, Australia has committed $26.3 million to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) to deliver the SPRINT initiative.  SPRINT saves lives and accelerates community recovery by providing crisis-affected women, men and children with lifesaving sexual and reproductive health services.

Related documents *

Name of document Year published Type

Improving economic outcomes for women



Empowering Women



Women, Peace and Security



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

Related links

* 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.

Last Updated: 9 May 2017