Collaborating with business: gender equality and empowering women and girls

Gender equality is critical to achieving sustainable economic and social development. The Australian government’s aid program promotes gender equality and empowerment of women in our partner countries to support economic growth and to help reduce poverty.

Business leaders from the PNG delegation
Business leaders from the PNG delegation at the second Pacific Women in Business Conference. (Photo: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women).

The aid program supports women’s organisations and coalitions, recognising the lead role of these organisations in creating change. We focus on engaging mainstream business as gender equality champions wherever possible.

Current aid initiatives with private sector partners include:

  • Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) and the second Pacific Women in Business Conference. PIPSO’s leadership has a positive influence on private sector development in the region. As the representative body for 14 national private sector organisations across the region, PIPSO is well placed to give the private sector a voice and influence legislation and policy making at national and regional levels. The second Pacific Women in Business conference in December 2014 was supported by DFAT’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development programme. It set the stage for 187 women business leaders from 13 Pacific Island countries to share success stories, exchange ideas and best practices, cultivate networks and discuss solutions to challenges facing women entrepreneurs. “I was able to network with business women from Tonga, American Samoa and Vanuatu about setting up a franchise in their country. They are very eager and we are currently in discussions,” said the 2014 Westpac Women in Business Awardee (Vera Chute-Laveti)
  • Empowering Indonesian Women for Poverty Reduction (MAMPU) program promotes coalitions with the private sector, communities and governments to find solutions to employment, safe migrant labour, maternal and reproductive health, domestic violence and access to social protection.
  • Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformation (SHIFT) programme is seeking to transition six million low income people and micro-small-medium enterprises (MSMEs), especially women and women enterprises, into regulated financial markets by 2020. This is aimed at developing a framework for action to incentivise greater private and quasi-private sector investment and financing for MSMEs, contributing in particular to women’s economic empowerment in frontier markets in the ASEAN region.
  • Investing in Women Initiative will increase and improve women’s participation in South East Asian economies. The Investing in Women Initiative will support women-led small and medium enterprises to access investment capital to grow their businesses. It will also support business coalitions with large employers to adopt gender equitable work practices, as good for business, growth and gender equality.

Read more about DFAT’s investment priorities: Gender equality and empowering women and girls.

Last Updated: 27 August 2015