This report evaluates how effective Australia has been in achieving gender equality outcomes in economic development programs.
Promoting women’s economic empowerment is ‘smart economics’. When women are fully involved in economic development, countries become more equitable and prosperous. Worldwide, there has been steady progress for women and girls in the key sectors of health and education. However, Australia—like most donors—has had limited success in achieving gender equality outcomes in economic development programs.
Last financial year, approximately 25 per cent of the Australian aid budget was invested in the economic sectors, ranging from primary industry through to the production of goods and provision of services. Australian aid support for economic development is mainly concentrated on agriculture, rural development and transport. Smaller, but still significant, amounts of aid focus on energy, trade, and business and banking. Less than a third of this economic sector investment can demonstrate an explicit focus on gender equality. This is a concern, especially given Australia’s longstanding policy of ‘mainstreaming’ gender equality in its aid program.