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Australia’s support to women in developing countries

August 24, 2012

With Michelle Bachelet in Canberra on August 22, 2012

On Wednesday, August 22, I met with Executive Director of UN Women, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, Ms Michelle Bachelet.

Ms Bachelet was the first woman President of Chile and she now leads the UN’s effort to promote gender equality and empower women.

Australia is the fifth largest donor to UN Women. We are on track to be the second largest donor by 2016.

And we should be.

In its 2012 World Development Report, the World Bank found that by eliminating discrimination against female workers global productivity per worker could be increased by up to 40 per cent.

That is why the Australian Government, through AusAID, has made gender equality – improving the lives of women and girls – a priority.

In Indonesia, we have created over 330,000 new primary school places of which half will be for girls.

In Sri Lanka we are assisting over 2000 women in rural areas to access training and obtain small business loans to improve their lives.

In Papua New Guinea we have improved access to justice for women by increasing the number of female magistrates in the village court’s system from ten just seven years ago to over 600 today.

In Uruzgan province Afghanistan, provided basic health and hygiene education to almost 8,000 primary school students, 34 per cent of whom are girls.

In Fiji, we have supported a new electronic welfare payments system that has assisted over 17,000 people – 63 per cent of whom are women.

At a dinner for Michelle Bachelet in Canberra on August 22, 2012

It must also be emphasised that the Australian community has zero tolerance for violence against women.

AusAID is working with our partner countries to eliminate violence against women.

In Papua New Guinea, we have established Family Support Centres in 11 hospitals offering treatment, counselling and referral services for women and children subjected to violence.

In Fiji, we have recently provided counselling and support services through the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre to more than 3,700 women who have been subjected to violence.

In Cambodia, we’ve helped train more than 20,000 people to take part in community crime prevention activities, including awareness of violence against women.

The Australian Government will continue to focus on ending violence against women and girls in developing countries.

  1. Dr Patricia Jenkings permalink
    August 26, 2012 9:25 am

    Great to see and read World Bank findings. As you may also be aware, US President Barack Obama’s National Security Strategy also recognises, countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunitites. Indeed interesting times ahead as our Government takes positive steps to support UN Women and ultimately, the advancement women’s human rights.


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