From Evidence to Action: Building Better Futures for Women and Girls

I recently joined the Australians Investing In Women (AIIW) team in a newly funded communications and story-telling role, and soon after attended an annual donor’s event at The Community of Giving, hosted by CEO, Julie Reilly OAM.

The philanthropic, corporate, and community leaders attending were keen to hear more about the social and economic impacts of funding equality and inclusion initiatives and applying a gender lens to all giving.

The From Evidence to Action: Building Better Futures for Women and Girls panel included business leaders and equality advocates, AIIW Chair Sam Mostyn AO, and board members – Walkley Award-winning journalist and author Catherine Fox AM and scientist and Director of WEHI Medical Research, Prof Doug Hilton AO.

They outlined critical aspects of gender equity in Australia, systemic barriers, the impact of AIIW research, and the urgency of collective action, along with Federal government responses and the recent 2023 budget commitments.

Sam Mostyn, who chairs the Government’s Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, explained how a gender-responsive framework delivered significant outcomes in the Federal Budget. She acknowledged the impact of the 2022 report Breaking the Norm, produced by AIIW and Deloitte Access Economics, with data showing that $128 billion could be added to GDP by breaking down the rigid gender norms quoted in the budget papers.

Evidence to Action: Building Better Futures for Women and Girls event panel discussion. Click the image to play the video.

The budget statement’s opening letter, signed by the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and the Finance Minister, highlighted the careful consideration the budget had given to women this year: “Women’s equality is at the heart of what we do as a government. It is essential for strengthening our economy, our society, and our nation. A core test of the fairness of this country is whether we are a gender-equal country. We will not achieve gender equality through a single budget or single reform. Driving real change in the lives of women requires ongoing leadership and commitment.

Prof Doug Hilton shared his personal and professional experiences working with AIIW co-founder and supporter Eve Mahlab AO and the ways that had influenced his commitment to gender equity and to creating a better and fairer world. He explained how advocacy and a gender lens approach were changing the funding of medical research and culture in the workplace.

Prof Doug Hilton AO discusses his gender-wise journey as a scientist and CEO: “When I took over as CEO, we had no female professors at all. I sat in a room with 25 blokes, and that was 2009…”

The panel emphasised the importance of bringing a gender lens to all aspects of giving – from assessing both the potential and impact of any initiative and reform to delivering programs. They highlighted the work of AIIW in creating both research and resources to support better gender-wise investment and outcomes for women.

Caitriona (Cat) Fay Managing Partner, Community & Social Investment and ESG, Perpetual Private congratulated AIIW on the impact of the 2022 Breaking the Norm report and asked the panel and guests a simple and powerful question, “Why is it so hard to get philanthropy to move on a gender lens, when we know that investing in women and girls leads to really significant impact?” 

Click on the video below to hear her comments and the panel’s response, or click here to watch the event discussion in full.

Cat Fay Managing Partner, Community & Social Investment and ESG, Perpetual Private.

Visiting guest Dr Jason Franklin, Founder & Principal of Ktisis Capital shared a series of unique lessons from the USA giving community including responding to Cat’s question earlier. “Women are the majority of the population and with increasing leadership, we’re finally seeing recognition, and therefore we [assume that we] will continue to move forward. Instead, what we see is that when greater equality is realised, pushback also gets stronger.” 

Dr. Jason Franklin, Founder & Principal of Ktisis Capital shares insights from the USA

The conversations inspired attendees to share some tangible actions in their personal and professional lives promoting gender equality. Event guest, Jeanette Large, CEO of Women’s Property Initiatives was invited to share the impact of AIIW’s work on philanthropic engagement with her organisation. Additionally, she shared the ways she believes it’s changed the government’s procurement process to better support gender equity.

AIIW donor Mim Barlett also shared her decision to support the work of AIIW. She explained at a macro level there were many social issues and trends, from the rise of violent online pornography to the rise of far-right ideologies and governments that fuelled her commitment to supporting gender equality. Additionally, she shared that despite her deep knowledge of, and fierce passion for supporting gender equality, she found the gender-lens provocations and tools supplied by AIIW both enlightening and practical when assessing investment and impact.

For more details and insights I encourage you to PLAY the video and listen to the discussion in full. I was delighted by the access to the personal stories, insights, provocations, and practical information that was shared, and left the event having new knowledge of work and inspiring new real-world examples from across the community. I look forward to sharing more of this to support giving with a gender lens and catalyse investing in women and girls.

Thank you to Maggie Eudes for capturing the video, and to all involved. Please share this content with your communities, and consider donating to support the work of AIIW. Thank you to those who have already contributed and pledged their support. We also invite you to take part in AIIW’s 2023 State of Gender-wise Giving Survey and to encourage others to become more gender-wise in their giving.

Ella Mitchell
Communications & Engagement Lead
Australians Investment in Women

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