Smart Economics: Evaluation of Australian aid support for women’s economic empowerment

9 September 2014

This evaluation assesses the effectiveness of Australia’s policies and programming to promote women’s economic development. It finds that whilst Australia’s policies to promote women’s economic empowerment are sound, implementation approaches are generally weak. The evaluation makes four recommendations aimed at strengthening Australia’s efforts to overcome barriers to women’s economic empowerment, and to invest strategically in economic pathways for women. DFAT has agreed to all four recommendations.

Evaluation report

Case studies

Other resources

Think pieces

The following five think-pieces were commissioned by ODE and developed by international aid and gender experts. They provide analysis and insight into key gender equality and aid effectiveness issues in developing countries focussed on women’s economic empowerment, women’s leadership and violence against women.

Women and the informal economy—Lota Bertulfo

The old economic picture of a place of work was the shop, the office or the factory. The new reality of a workplace is the street, the sidewalk or the home. Gender specialist Lota Bertulfo delves into the murky world of women in the informal economy and argues that any attempt to alleviate poverty must have a gendered approach.

Women and the formal economy—Lorraine Corner

With globalisation, the costs of excluding women from the workforce increasingly outweigh the costs of their participation. Dr Lorraine Corner argues that development actors need to promote women’s inclusion in the formal economy as the main mechanism to achieve gender equality and empowerment.

Ending violence against women and achieving MGD 3—Christine Bradley

Freedom from violence is fundamental not only to women’s empowerment, but also to all the Millennium Development Goals. Dr Christine Bradley looks at how violence against women constitutes a barrier for achieving equality in all aspects of life: from attaining an education, to entering the workforce, to participating in political life.

Women in politics and aid effectiveness: an aid to evaluation of MDG 3—Marilyn Waring

Dr Marilyn Waring looks at Millennium Development Goal 3 and asks whether women's empowerment can be accurately measured by the number of women elected to national office. She discusses the reality for women who run for office in male dominated environments and suggests more meaningful indicators for women's empowerment and leadership.

Women, peace and security: a gendered approach to aid effectiveness in post-conflict development—Sherrill Whittington

While much attention has been given to the victimhood of women in post-conflict development, too little focus and resources are allocated to strengthening the capacity of women to assume key leadership roles as peace-builders. International consultant Sherrill Whittington argues that peace is more likely to be lasting where both men and women are included in decision making processes when rebuilding communities.


Last Updated: 9 September 2014
Two female diesel fitters in a workshop
Diesel fitters who were among the first students of the Asia Pacific Technical College when classes began in Port Moresby in 2007. Credit: Rocky Roe / Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In 2012/13 almost one quarter of the Australian aid budget was invested in the economic sectors. Aid was concentrated on agriculture, rural development and transport with smaller, but still significant investments in energy, trade, and business and banking. Less than one third of Australia’s economic sector investment demonstrated an explicit focus on gender equality.