Issue Deep Dive
Australia / Gender Equality
Last updated: April 21, 2023
Australia ranked 12th among DAC donors in terms of its overall spending toward projects related to gender equality.
In 2021, Australia’s prioritization of projects that incorporate some gender equality was in line with the DAC average of 42%.
In 2021, Australia’s spending on gender equality decreased by about 7% compared to 2020.
In 2021, Australia ranked 14th among DAC donors in terms of its principal gender spending relative to total ODA.
All of Australia’s bilateral allocable ODA was screened against the gender marker in 2021, marking a significant success after years of continuous improvements in screening practices. The government has reintroduced a stronger requirement that all programs over AUD3 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.
Australia’s gender-focused ODA mirrors the sector and regional allocations for the country’s bilateral ODA overall.
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 received an estimated AUD65 million ( US$45 million) in FY2022/23. This funding included allocating to an emerging markets impact investment fund of AUD10 million ( US$7 million) to assist gender investments in Southeast Asia.
In February 2023, Australia’s Foreign Minister announced consultations across the East Asia and Pacific region to inform a future LGBTQ+ human rights engagement strategy. This strategy would be aimed at reducing social stigma and legal discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. AUD4 million ( US$3 million) will be provided in 2023 to assist human rights and civil society organizations, international bodies, and partnerships with expanding LGBT+ rights globally. Increased contributions would also be provided to the Global Equity Fund.
Australia channels some funding for gender equality through multilaterals including the UNFPA and UN Women. Recent contributions included 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.
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:
- Gender-based violence ( GBV);
- Amplifying women’s voices in decision-making, leadership, and peacebuilding; and
- Improving the capacity to collect, analyze, and make available, data on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Pacific Women Lead and Women Together initiatives are important mechanisms through which Australia supports gender equality: The Pacific Women Lead program is funded with AUD170 million ( US$128 million), while the Women Together Initiative will receive AUD300 million ( US$208 million) over five years. These two initiatives fall under the larger AUD1.5 billion ( US$1.1 billion) investment in Australia’s gender equality-focused ODA for FY2022/23, with specific focus on the Pacific and Southeast Asia.
Australia’s development performance framework outlines that at least 80% of DFAT’s development cooperation investments should effectively address gender issues: According to POA reports, this target has never been met. The 2017/18 and 2018/19 POAs 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.
Looking for a cross donor perspective?
Learn more about SEEK's work on gender equality
Explore other deep-dives
Read more on Australia
Read more on Gender Equality