Equitable Foundations: A New Gender-wise Framework for Philanthropic Partnerships

Australians Investing In Women (AIIW) and the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Social Equity Institute (MSEI) have launched a new resource to increase the impact of philanthropic and social investments.

Equitable Foundations: A Framework for Philanthropic Partnerships and the associated case study report, funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation were brought to life through a research presentation from Dr Alexandra Williamson, Senior Research Fellow, Melbourne Social Equity Institute and a robust panel discussion featuring the Lord Mayor, Sally Capp AO; Dr Doug Hilton AO, AIIW Board Member; Liz Yeo, Chief of Alliances Paul Ramsay Foundation and Prof Jo Barraket AM, Director, Melbourne Social Equity Institute. (See photo gallery below.)

Informed by broader sector expertise, the framework draws on the experiences of funders and partners in projects supporting women’s housing – Viv’s Place (Vic) and My Home (WA) – to map out gender-wise principles and pathways that can be applied to any collaboration, seeking to positively impact any social issue.

In recent years, there’s been a rise in homelessness with a gendered face across Australia. A parliamentary report found older women are one of the fastest growing groups of those presenting to homelessness services because of a lifetime of gendered inequality, income poverty, and caring responsibilities.

Philanthropic giving has the power to play a pivotal role in addressing complex challenges facing society such as housing, climate change, unemployment, health etc Increasingly, philanthropic funders recognise that this power can be amplified when they work in partnership and collaborate with other funders and key stakeholders to achieve an outcome that would not be possible alone.

Evidence both globally and locally indicates that among the many advantages, enhancing gender equality plays a crucial role in alleviating poverty and disadvantage. This new research and resource will help the philanthropic sector, other funders and partners improve the effectiveness of social investments by understanding and responding to disadvantage and gender inequality in their area of focus.

Professor Jo Barraket AM, Director, Melbourne Social Equity Institute, University of Melbourne explains: “The lenses through which we view the world affect what we prioritise, who we see and what levers we pull to create positive change. Increasingly, such change relies on partnerships and collaboration to bring the best combination of resources, experience and will to solving wicked problems.”

In Australia we have seen a strengthened commitment to gender equality through the 2023 Women’s Budget Statement, the establishment of the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce and through development of the National Gender Equality Strategy. This expectation of gender consideration is now extending into public and private partnerships which have become increasingly important in delivering projects in healthcare, education, and infrastructure in recent times.

“Gender inequality persists in all aspects of Australian life across the lifecycle,” said Julie Reilly OAM CEO, Australians Investing In Women. “A gender lens can be used as a tool to hear from and empower people experiencing inequity and improves outcomes for everyone, not just women.

“Small but significant changes that bring women and girls into focus can maximise the impact of philanthropic investments in community and help create a fairer future. The Equitable Foundations Framework can support more rigorous analysis and decision making by funders, boards, executives, and people implementing change, and encourage effort and investment towards gender equality.” Ms Reilly said.

“The case for supporting women and girls has been well made by Australians Investing In Women, and at this moment – when quality and focused philanthropic giving is essential to helping people and communities have what they need to thrive – we’re proud to support AIIW develop a framework to increase the understanding and application of gender lens principles in Australian philanthropic practice.”Liz Yeo Chief of Alliances, Paul Ramsay Foundation

Complementing AIIW’s existing suite of Gender-wise resources, this new resource recognises that philanthropic partnerships and collaborations often develop organically, and that the various parties that come together may be at different stages of understanding and commitment to considering gender equality as part of their social impact.

The Equitable Foundations Case Studies report includes:

  • key insights regarding the application of a gender lens in two women’s housing case studies

The Equitable Foundations Framework provides a clear and practical roadmap to help philanthropic organisations to:

  • apply a gender lens to partnerships and collaborations,
  • include gender analysis in the design, delivery, and measurement of projects, and
  • better understand the ways that gender inequality plays out in areas of philanthropic investment and grant making such as poverty, disadvantage and housing and recognise the benefits of applying a gender lens.

To read and download the Equitable Foundations Case Studies and Framework: aiiw.org.au/research-resources/equitable-foundations.


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