International Women's Day With Coffey international development - Asia Pacific

Today is International Women’s Day. For many parts of the world women, girls and other disadvantaged groups remain severely underprivileged, marginalised and mistreated. Women and girls lack access to educational and economic opportunities, are unable to access fair justice and remain excluded from political spheres.

They are marginalised for a wide range of reasons, including ethnicity, physical ability, social status and their gender. In many societies many basic conditions for women have improved in recent decades and thankfully the way we deliver aid is changing too.

Considering the needs of women, girls and people with a disability in development projects is essential to economic growth vital to improving the livelihoods of these groups. This is why Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has committed to an 80 per cent inclusion target for Australian aid programs.

Coffey’s Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) team consists of female and male development and gender specialists, who engage closely with our partners, tailoring strategies that integrate GEDSI aligned governance, education, policy, reporting and monitoring across our projects. Our GEDSI team have more than 53 years combined consulting experience and are dedicated to improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people.

Coffey's GEDSI team - Glenn Davies, Linda Vasey, Kate Nethercott Wilson, Cara Ellickson

Coffey’s international development business works across the Asia Pacific region, ensuring the needs of women and girls are accommodated in our projects, and strategies are implemented to contribute to global gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s economic growth.

Each country we work in has different cultural, social and policy structures which plays a role in determining the current situation for women. We design context-specific strategies in delivering our projects to accommodate these countries, while educating and empowering communities to drive change.

Kiribati Education Improvement Program (KEIP) Phase 3

The Pacific

Pacific Readiness for Investing in Social Enterprise (Pacific RISE program)

In the Pacific Islands, women make significant contributions to societies and economies and there is a growing recognition among governments and in the private sector that investing in women and girls has a powerful effect on productivity, efficiency and economic growth.

Pacific women face obstacles in the investment climate preventing them from growing their businesses. This includes a prevailing culture of informality amongst female entrepreneurs, unequal access to property, credit and justice, women’s lack of experience, and comfort with formal business processes such as business and license registration. While these obstacles impact men, they have a disproportionately greater impact on women.

Coffey’s Pacific Readiness for Investment in Social Enterprise (Pacific RISE) program a pilot initiative of the Australian Government to pioneer and facilitate a social impact investment market in the Pacific. Wherever possible, Pacific RISE promotes greater investment in social enterprises that deliver opportunities for women’s economic empowerment.

To do this, Pacific RISE has partnered with the Criterion Institute global leaders in gender lens investing to design an approach to create better investments in the Pacific and improve outcomes for women. Gender lens investing refers to the process of analysing and assessing how financial investments benefit women.

“Pacific RISE has a unique opportunity to play a role in supporting women’s economic development. Pacific RISE is partnering with the Criterion Institute to integrate a gender lens over the activities to create better investments in the Pacific.” – Amanda Jupp, Pacific RISE Facility Manager.

Gender lens investing is not driven by women’s movement, it’s actually being driven by investors. Many global banks and investment houses have already figured out that they need to work better to build relationships with women wealth holders and have put in place specific gender lens investing policies and products targeting women.

Globally, women make 80 per cent of all buying decisions around the world. For example in the US, women by themselves are, the largest national economy on earth. Larger than the entire Japanese economy. Women control 51.3 per cent of the private wealth in the United States and this is increasing. It is estimated that two-thirds of private wealth equating to $22 trillion in the U.S. will be in the hands of women by 2025.

“So we define gender lens investing as incorporating a gender analysis into a financial analysis, to get to better decisions. Now, what’s great about that, is that definition, really resonates in the finance sector, you know, if you’re talking to a fund advisor, or an investor, and you say, look, we can make your decisions smarter, if you understand gender.” – Joy Anderson, founder of Criterion Institute and gender lens investing.

To find out more about Pacific RISE and gender lens investing visit their website:

The Fiji Community Development Program (FCDP)

Over the past year the Pacific Islands of Fiji have been severely affected by natural disasters. In the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston in February 2016, rural and urban communities have faced additional hardships with severe flooding, loss of housing, crops and livelihoods.

Adding to the complexity and chaos in the post disaster environment is a range of additional challenges that are faced women and children, people living with disability and other vulnerable groups. These issues include food security, access to services, risk of gender based violence, health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH), and poverty.

The Fiji Community Development Program (FCDP) managed by Coffey, provides grant funding and capacity building to poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged communities across Fiji. FCDP provides a focus in advancing gender equality, disability inclusion, child protection, and environmental protection.

FCDP’s twin track approach in addressing GEDSI includes implementing targeted gender equality, disability and social inclusion activities (e.g. grant funding, capacity building) as well as mainstreaming GEDSI into all program components (e.g. proposal, appraisal and report templates).

Amongst its many achievements FCDP provide Civil Society Organisation grant funds, which build capacity for organisations to provide sexual and reproductive health services, and sexual abuse responder skills training.

“FCDP’s support has made a significant difference for the safety, well-being and economic empowerment of women in rural, vulnerable, underserved communities.” – Glenn Davies, Gender Advisor, Ministry of Women Children and Poverty Alleviation, Department of Women.

To find out more about FCDP go to

Ending Violence Against Women in Cambodia (EVAW)

South-East Asia

Ending Violence Against Women in Cambodia (EVAW)

Violence against women is one of the most pervasive human rights issues in Cambodia. The first National Survey on Women's Health and Life Experiences in Cambodia, undertaken by WHO, found that one in five women in Cambodia reported to have experienced sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner.

Due to shame and social stigma, most victims are afraid to speak about their experiences and very few seek assistance. However, the Ending Violence Against Women in Cambodia (EVAW) program is working to combat this. EVAW is a joint partnership of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) and DFAT.

So far, the EVAW program has achieved significant results, such as establishing advocacy networks and gender-based violence support groups. More than 200 clients and families have received counselling and 82 Community Resource Persons have been trained in mental health care.

Australia Awards – Cambodia

Women in Cambodia also face significant barriers to leadership, including, social and cultural norms, personal household dynamics, workplace structures and practices, and professional relationships and networks. There are many factors which contribute to these barriers such as, how women are viewed, treated, and the expectations and ambitions that they have of themselves and other women particularly in relation to leadership.

Tensions between the competing demands and expectation of work, policies, gendered expectations, and structural, cultural and gendered barriers to women’s participation are also among the factors which contribute to women’s leadership barriers in Cambodia.

“Promoting women's leadership and decision making is essential for advancing gender equality.” – Kate Nethercott Wilson, Senior Development Specialist: Gender, Disability and Social Inclusion.

In an effort to combat this, the Australia Awards — Cambodia program, managed by Coffey on behalf of the Australian Government, , is implementing a gender equity strategy aimed at increasing the number of women applying for and being awarded scholarships and improving the outcomes for women Alumni upon return from Australia. As part of the strategy, the Women in Leadership (WIL) Cambodia: Professional Women Reaching Their Potential Together program will be launched in the coming months.

WIL Cambodia will work with women Alumni to develop leadership capability, provide an opportunity to lead by exercising leadership through social learning, fostering networks and supporting advocacy for gender related social change.

Follow this link to find out more: Australia Awards— Cambodia: Toward Gender Equity.

These are just a couple of examples of Coffey’s dedication to achieving gender equity, empowering women globally and supporting the economic and social advancement of women, girls, persons with a disability and people from other marginalised groups. We employ these strategies and supports across each and every one of our projects, ensuring these goals become a reality.

For more information visit

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