Issue Deep Dive: Australia/Gender Equality

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ODA Spending

ODA In Context

Australia ranked 12th among DAC donors in terms of its overall spending toward projects related to gender equality.

In 2020, Australia’s prioritization of projects that incorporate some gender equality was in line with the DAC average of 45%.

Overall, in 2020, Australia’s spending on gender equality increased by almost 20% compared to 2019 bouncing back after dropping to a five-year low in 2019.

Australia’s funding for projects with a principal gender focus increased steadily between 2014 and 2019 but plunged to pre-2014 levels in 2019 before rebounding somewhat in 2020. In 2020, Australia ranked ninth among DAC donors in terms of its principal gender spending relative to total ODA, a significant improvement from previous years.

In 2020, all of Australia’s bilateral allocable ODA was screened against the gender marker, marking a significant success after years of continuous improvements in screening practices. The new Australian government has reintroduced a stronger requirement that all programs over A$3 million (US$2.1 million) must have a gender equality objective. 80% of development programs in their implementation will be required to address gender issues.

ODA Breakdown

Bilateral Spending

Australia’s gender-focused ODA mirrors the sector and regional allocations for the country’s bilateral ODA overall.

Visit the main page of the Australia profile to see an overall sector breakdown

As in Australia’s development policy overall, the Indo-Pacific receives particular attention. Australia’s ‘Gender Equality Fund’ promotes gender equality in the region and is funded with an estimated A$65 million (US$45 million) in FY2022/23.

Multilateral Spending and Commitments

Australia channels some funding for gender equality through multilaterals including the UNFPA (see Sector: ‘Health’) and UN Women, amounting to US$31 million in annual core voluntary contributions to UN Women during 2022-2025 and an additional funding envelope totaling US$10 million for 2020-2022 for projects focused on ending violence against women and girls.

Funding & Policy Outlook

Gender is a cross-cutting priority in Australia’s development policy: In line with Australia’s commitment to the COVID-19 response and recovery, its policy commits to investing in gender equality and WEE, given that women are disproportionately impacted by the ongoing crisis. Australia currently focuses on:

  1. Gender-based violence ( GBV);
  2. Enhancing women’s voices in decision-making, leadership, and peacebuilding; and
  3. Improving the capacity to collect, analyze, and make available, data on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The ‘Pacific Women Lead’ program and ‘Women Together’ initiative are important mechanisms through which Australia supports gender equality: The Pacific Women Lead program is funded with A$170 million (US$117 million), while the Women Together Initiative has A$300 million (US$206 million) in resources over five years and is focused on gender equality efforts in Southeast Asia. These two initiatives fall under the larger A$1.5 billion (US$1 billion) investment in Australia’s gender equality-focused ODA for FY2022/23.

Australia’s development performance framework outlines that at least 80% of DFAT’s development cooperation investments should effectively address gender issues: According to ‘Performance of Australian Aid’ ( POA) reports, this target has never been met; the POA 2017/18 and 2018/19 indicate 77% of development assistance investments effectively addressed gender equality in implementation. A 2018 OECD Development Co-operation Peer Review commended Australia for its policy commitment to mainstreaming gender, underpinned by strong performance targets.

Key Bodies

Adam Jennison

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