Gender inequality plays an outsized role in poverty and disadvantage in many countries. According to the United Nations:
Pursuing gender equality is not only good for women and girls, it is also good for economic and social development. When women and girls are empowered, and barriers to their participation are removed, economies grow faster, health and education outcomes for women and children improve, and there is greater social stability, sustainability and equality.
Since 2013 the Liberal Government has cut Australia’s aid budget by $11.8 billion. Annual Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending is now nearly $700 million less than under the former Labor Government. The Liberal cuts in overseas aid have hurt some of the poorest people in the world and have fallen especially harshly on women and children in developing countries. This Budget will see ODA fall from $4.41 billion in 2020-21 to $4.35 billion in 2021-22 – at a time when the challenges of COVID are rising in developing countries in Australia’s region.
The Government’s own statistics show that Australia’s ODA spending on programs which have gender equality as a principal or significant objective has been cut by $840 million since the Government took office.
The Liberals have failed to meet their own target of ensuring that more than 80 per cent of Australian aid investments address gender issues – in fact, after failing to meet the target every single year since 2014-15, Foreign Minister Marise Payne dropped the target altogether in 2020.