International Women’s Day: Australia adds gender element to all development projects
“We must use the celebration of International Women’s Day to highlight the plight of women still fighting for freedom and equality, for when that is achieved it will be for the betterment of us all,” said Australian Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP.
We must never resile from challenging any attitude that regards a female life as less valuable than a male life.”
In 2015, Australia is using International Women’s Day to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was agreed by 189 countries. The mission of the Platform for Action was to remove all obstacles to women’s participation in public and private life through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making.
Australia has reaffirmed its commitment to the Platform by establishing a benchmark that 80 per cent of all aid investments, irrespective of objectives, effectively address gender equality issues in implementation. In Vietnam, this means that in addition to specific programs that address gender issues, Australian Government assistance in all other areas, from infrastructure, to agriculture and human resource development, also contributes to achieving gender equality.
Australian Ambassador HE Mr Hugh Borrowman said “Australia is committed to supporting and partnering other countries to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. The shift in our priorities for the development program has been welcomed by Vietnamese partners and people”.
In Vietnam, around AUD50 million of Australia’s aid funding supported initiatives which advanced gender equality in 2014. One such project was aimed at raising awareness of the gender imbalance at birth and the negative consequences of this imbalance; through another, Australia is supporting efforts to provide shelter and services for women and children experiencing gender-based violence and human trafficking – the only such shelters in Vietnam. The Australian Government is also supporting the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to train women candidates for the 2016 National Assembly elections.
The Australian Government is involved in a number of events to mark International Women’s Day in Vietnam. It is the main supporter for an ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network (AWEN) Forum on 6-7 March, and has organised a photo competition with the theme of “Gender equality through alumni lenses”, with winning photos to be exhibited at an alumni BBQ on 7 March.
However, while some progress has been made on gender issues, the Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja, stressed in her recent video message that our work is far from done to ensure women’s freedom from domestic violence. ‘Let’s not wait another 20 years!” she said (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BKaouDkYb4).