Systemic Change

Each year IWDA’s research and advocacy influences the development of policies, attitudes and behaviours. The goal of our research and advocacy is to generate gender equality outcomes in Australia, the region, and the world. Here are some highlights of our key initiatives in 2016-17.

IWDA partners take the international stage at the Commission on the Status of Women

In March, representatives from IWDA and our Women’s Action for Voice and Empowerment (WAVE) and WeRise programs attended the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York.

CSW is the largest gathering of the 193 United Nations Member States focussed on the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Being part of a global forum mobilised women to participate and be heard, which was especially important for women from the Pacific – a region which is often underrepresented in global forums like CSW. Alongside her sisters from women’s organisations across Asia Pacific, Dr. Alice Pollard explained the challenges women face in attaining leadership.

The sixty-first session on the Commission on the Status of Women saw the We Rise Coalition amplifying women’s voices from across Asia and the Pacific. Two feminist skill-building camps brought together feminist activists from across Fiji to create strategies to ensure the well-being and self-care for activists.

During an official Interactive Expert Panel on Data and Gender Statistics, the Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM) was also showcased as part of CSW. DFAT presented on the IDM noting that, ‘Australia thinks there are multiple and intersecting ways that people experience inequality and poverty. So we are really supportive of a tool that can draw out these intersections.’ The IDM was acclaimed as ‘innovative’ and ‘critical to closing the gender data gaps’.


The We Rise Coalition, a Coalition of four, independent, feminist organisations – Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, femLINKpacific, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, and International Women’s Development Agency have been instrumental in bringing the voice of Pacific women direct to a range of high-level policy engagements, knowledge and skill-building workshops and public advocacy at regional and national levels.

Australian Aid investing in global gender data

In February, the Australian Government officially announced a $9.5million investment in the Individual Deprivation Measure over the next four years. The initiative positions Australia at the frontier of poverty measurement. It is a partnership between The Australian National University (ANU), International Women’s Development Agency and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Investment in the Individual Deprivation Measure is an integral part of Australia’s long-term commitment to closing gender data gaps in the Indo-Pacific region and globally. This bold move by Australian Aid sees Australia as world leaders in investment in addressing the global gender data gaps.

IDM Country Studies

In 2017, IWDA engaged a research consultancy organisation based in Kathmandu, Inter Disciplinary Analysts (IDA), to implement the IDM Nepal study. Across Nepal, 1,692 individual participants from 803 households completed the IDM survey in, including an additional 310 people with disabilities. This survey subsequently allows further insights into the relationship between functional difficulties and poverty.

The Nepal study was the first IDM study to use a digitised survey running on Android tablets to inform our approach of incorporating technology to support IDM uptake and use. Our goal is for the IDM to be globally available, with technology facilitating data collection, storage, and security by 2020. The current IDM Program is continuing to explore and resolve technical aspects of the IDM alongside data collection in additional countries, contexts, and populations.


Through our work on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs), IWDA has worked to hold the Australian Government accountable to the SDGs. With a strategic focus on four priorities – women’s leadership, resourcing, measurement, and public engagement – IWDA has promoted Australia’s role domestically, in the region, and around the globe. In order to increase public knowledge of the SDGs, we have produced a blog series, which also helps to highlight the significance of this agenda.

IWDA has also pursued a cross-government advocacy focus on Australia’s resourcing and coordination of SDGs work and the role of diverse women and women’s rights organisations as leaders on the 2030 agenda.

Federal budget analysis

IWDA continues to generate comprehensive annual analysis of the Federal Budget in partnership with ACFID and National Foundation for Australian Women. This year our Gender Analysis of the Federal Budget Report drove a series of Senate Estimates questions about the gender equality priorities of the Turnbull Government and received national media coverage in print media and on radio. IWDA’s stand-alone analysis focused on transparency and accountability of gender equality expenditure allocations in the Australian aid program.

Read more and watch the discussion here.


IWDA facilitated the participation of our partners from Fiji, Cambodia, Myanmar and Solomon Islands in the Association for Women’s Right in Development (AWID) 13th global conference, titled ‘Building Collective Power for Rights and Justice’. This saw close to 20 women in our network working together at the forum, with IWDA facilitating partnership workshops. Without IWDA’s investment in mobilising representatives from our partner organisations, the Pacific region would have been largely unrepresented.

Do no harm

IWDA continues to resource work on the relationship between domestic and international women’s rights organisations to advance action on SDG Goal 5 on gender equality. Given the increased focus on women’s economic empowerment programming through Australian Aid, IWDA has worked to ensure that the intersections between women’s economic empowerment, violence against women and women’s leadership informs this work.


In late 2016, the Australian Government announced it was developing a Foreign Policy White Paper to guide Australia’s international engagement over the next five-to-ten years. IWDA worked to develop a comprehensive white paper submission which included 52 practical recommendations focused on gender equality and women’s empowerment.