Australia has adopted a second National Action Plan (NAP) for the period 2021-2031. The development of Australia’s second National Action Plan comes at the behest of a changing global context, where new challenges including climate change and health pandemics contribute to fragility and conflict (p.6). The Australian Government developed their National Action Plan with recommendations from two independent reviews, national consultations conducted by government and civil society, and women, peace, and security research and evidence (p.11). It will be implemented by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Defense, Department of Home Affairs, Australia’s Federal Police, and the Australian Civil-Military Centre.
Australia adopted its first National Action Plan (NAP) in 2012, for the period 2012-2018. The NAP was developed by the Australian Government Office for Women, which was tasked with convening the Women, Peace and Security Inter-Departmental Working Group. The government undertook extensive civil society engagement leading up to and during the development of the NAP, including with WILPF Australia. The NAP approaches the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda mostly internationally.
Australia does not have a recent history of armed conflict, but is a contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and NATO military missions and provides international humanitarian relief and development assistance. This includes peacekeeping missions in East Timor, regional assistance missions in the Solomon Islands, and humanitarian support and law enforcement to indigenous communities. Australia is a contributing donor to the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, a global partnership that works to empower women in conflict zones and humanitarian crises. Australia is also a partner of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies, a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to mitigate and provide accountability for gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies. In 2019, Australia was UN Women’s ninth largest other resources and regular resources contributor with USD $8.8 million and USD $5.5 million, respectively.
At the multilateral level, Australia most recently served as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2013-2014.
National Action Plan (2021-2031)
Global Gender Gap Index 2020
44 out of 153
Arms Trade Treaty Signed 2013
Military expenditure (2019)
$25.912 billion USD
Explore Australia's National Action Plan
The development of Australia’s second National Action Plan comes at the behest of a changing global context, where new challenges including violent extremism, climate, and health pandemics contribute to fragility and conflict (p.6). The Australian Government developed their National Action Plan with recommendations from two independent reviews, national consultations conducted by government and civil society, and women, peace, and security research and evidence (p.11). While civil society groups and organisations are not named explicitly as groups consulted in the development of the nation’s second NAP, the NAP does aim to strengthen partnerships with civil society and support their capacity building. In a commitment to work in partnership with civil society, the Australian government seeks to collaborate across “two key functions - advice and accountability” (p.55).
The implementation of Australia’s National Action Plan is underpinned by the following four principles: a ‘do no harm’ approach, a human rights-based approach, gender mainstreaming, and recognising and responding to diverse experiences. The NAP declares women and girls participation to be at the centre of Australia’s efforts on implementation (p.8). The implementation plan will be delivered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Defense, Department of Home Affairs, Australia’s Federal Police, and the Australian Civil-Military Centre. These Departments will strengthen implementation by increasing women’s participation and leadership in the peace and security sector, building knowledge and capabilities, using evidence-based approaches, and strengthening their partnership with civil society (p. 10). Each implementing department and agency will develop and release its own implementation plan that will outline department and agency activities that contribute to National Action Plan outcomes. Implementation plans usually have a two-year duration (p.52).
NAP Monitoring and Evaluation
The NAP applies a results-based monitoring and evaluation framework that will support ongoing improvements to implementation to ensure progress towards outcomes, through progress reporting and independent review. Regular progress reporting will draw on qualitative evidence (including case studies) to demonstrate the impact of their initiative. Outcome data will be disaggregated at the country level where Australian implementation is focused (p. 58). Departments’ implementation plans will also identify actions that contribute to National Action Plan outcomes and medium term outcomes (p. 56). There will be regular progress reporting and quantitative indicators selected from available data sets for their ability to measure progress overtime. The Australian government recognises that new indicators and data sources may emerge as global gender data matures (p. 58).
WILPF’s Contributions to Australia’s NAP
WILPF Australia made vital recommendations to the development of the nation’s second NAP through their advocacy for the inclusion of key themes/issues under the WPS agenda, including proactive peacebuilding, disarmament, the participation of women in all forms of peace and security policy and practice and Sustainable Development Goals SDG5 and SDG 16 (p.2).
WILPF Australia recommended the following:
- developing and resourcing NAP consultations in a timely manner to ensure diverse and representative engagement of civil society;
- provision of dedicated and sustainable resources to a WPS Secretariat to ensure regular communication and coordination across implementing agencies and WPS stakeholders;
- developing and implementing a Communications and Engagement Strategy to inform stakeholders (local and state government and civil society) on NAP implementation progress, achievements, lessons and to update on key issues across the domestic and international continuum;
- establishing an Advisory Panel- including civil society and WPS specialists- to provider regular feedback on implementation and monitoring and evaluations; and
- identifying realistic allocations for NAP implementation, coordination, monitoring and evaluation, and agency and civil society stakeholder communications and engagement (p.3).
To strengthen civil society engagement during the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of Australia’s second National Action Plan on WPS, the Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women Peace and Security collaborated with diverse women and civil society organisations in 2018. The resulting report was the sixth report of the Annual Civil Society Dialogue on Women Peace and Security. The report covered the following issues: resourcing civil society engagement; enabling diversity; representation, partnership and collaboration; and strengthening accountability.
In sum, WILPF Australia makes direct calls for Australia’s second National Action Plan to have a “critical gender perspective, robust monitoring and evaluation framework, resources to fully implement and evaluate the NAP, effective governance, consistence engagement with civil society (particularly women’s group), and the courage to meaningfully address the WPS agenda, conflict prevention and peace building” (p. 4). WILPF Australia succeeded in having the intentional inclusion of a robust monitoring and evaluation framework, consistent engagement with civil society, and the meaningful acknowledgement of the WPS agenda, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding.
The Australia NAP covers a ten year period from 2021 to 2031. The Independent Interim review will be commissioned in July 2025 with the goal of completion in December 2025. The review will consider the effectiveness of actions in meeting the NAP’s medium-term outcomes, It will recommend ways to improve ongoing implementation and set targets for the end of this NAP (p.57).
The Independent Final Review will assess the National Action Plan’s effectiveness over its lifetime. It will also consider changes relevant to the design of Australia’s third National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. It will be commissioned by July 2030 with an aim to be completed by December 2030 (p.57).
The Australia NAP is organised into four Key Outcomes designed to guide the nation’s international efforts in fragile and conflict-affected contexts.
The first key outcome to support women’s meaningful participation and needs in peace processes will require increasing women’s participation in conflict prevention and in all peace processes (p. 10).
The second key outcome to reduce sexual and gender based violence will require reducing harmful gender norms, increasing women and girl’s safety and security, and increasing access to justice (p.10).
The third key outcome, supporting the resilient, crisis, and security, law and justice efforts to meet the needs of all women and girls, will require security, law, and justice responses, preventing and countering violent extremism, and humanitarian action, stabilisation and disaster management (p.10).
The final key outcome, demonstrating leadership and accountability for WPS, requires Australia’s demonstration of global leadership and accountability. These key outcomes are designed to reflect UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions (p.10).
Each Outcome of the Australia NAP includes actions for practically achieving these goals followed by a case study demonstrating the validity of such actions. These key outcomes are categorized by thematic areas of the WPS agenda.
For example, Key Outcome 1 calls for supporting women and girls’ meaningful participation and needs in conflict prevention and peace processes. This outcome is in alignment with the participation pillar of the WPS agenda. Meeting this commitment means (p.20):
- Connecting informal decision-making to formal decision-making in peace processes
- Redesigning peace negotiations to ensure women have a seat at the table
- Amplifying the efforts of civil society coalitions, women’s rights organisations and women’s human rights defenders, and
- Supporting women’s capacities to analyse, shape agendas, organize and exercise their voice and agency, and their political involvement - and recognising that sometimes they participate differently.
Australia’s actions aim to (p. 21):
- ensure women and their representative organisations are included in political dialogues and development programming on conflict prevention
- ensure gender indicators are included in conflict early warning systems to better monitor and respond to women and girls’ experiences of insecurity
- support existing community mobilisation — including the efforts of civil society coalitions, women’s rights organisations and youth organisations and human rights defenders — to realise gender equality, remove existing barriers to decision-making structures, and address gendered barriers to social, economic and political rights
- conduct gender-sensitive conflict analysis that includes analysis of the drivers for conflict prevention and peace, and
- support existing efforts to challenge discriminatory gender norms, including about unpaid care, access to education, health and other services, and economic participation, that limit women and girls’ roles.
Australia’s Actions Aim to (p.24):
- support women’s rights organisations to engage, participate and influence inclusive peace processes at all levels
- provide care services, and financial, transport and accommodation support to enable women to participate in peace and security processes as they occur • support capacity building to ensure men and women, including in negotiation and mediation teams, can design gender equality provisions
- support capacity building to ensure men and women can implement the gender equality provisions of peace agreements • influence government agencies involved in the peace process to incorporate women’s issues and provide access for women in negotiations or discussions
- use Australia’s diplomatic leadership to advocate, including for women and girls’ participation in peace processes, reconciliation and stabilisation efforts, and • ensure women and girls can access education and economic opportunities.
The Australia NAP lists measures associated with each key outcome in its monitoring and evaluation from work and identifies the organization collecting that data.
Example taken from Key Outcome 3: Supporting resilience, crisis response, and security, law and justice sector efforts to meet the needs and rights of all women and girls (p.61):
Outcome Indicators (p. 61)
- Number and percentage of countries that have laws and regulations that restrict women’s ability to participate in society and the economy relative to men; data collected by UN Women, World Bank, OECD, ILO
- Maternal mortality ratio; data collected by UNODC and WHO
Increasing Access to security, law, and justice responses indicators
- Number of victims of human trafficking per 100,000 population; data collection by UNODC and WHO
- Proportion of victims of violence in the previous 12 months who reported to competent authorities or other officially recognised conflict resolution mechanisms; data collected by UNDODC
Humanitarian action, stabilisation and disaster management Indicators
- Number of women and men, girls and boys, provided with lifesaving assistance in crisis situations; data collected by Australian Government
- Percentage of women and men, girls and boys affected who report they are satisfied with the opportunities they had to influence the response; data collected by Australian government.
Progress reporting will track the Australian Government’s contributions to the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and will be delivered regularly over the course of the National Action Plan (p.57). Progress reports will capture departments’ implementation actions and the monitoring and evaluation framework will form the basis of progress resorting.
Two independent reviews will be commissioned over the course of the National Action Plan. Recommendations from the independent reviews will be considered by the Australian Government and inform ongoing implementation.
The Australia NAP does not include an allocated or estimated budget and there are no other financial resource consideration references within the NAP.
The Australia National Action Plan does not address disarmament issues, or connect the proliferation of weapons with women’s insecurity.
The Australian Government consulted Civil Society in developing the NAP, and provided funding for Civil Society led national consultations and the development of a discussion paper. Some 90 grassroots and national organizations participated in both processes, the consultations and the steps leading up to the the discussion paper. . Following this process, the Government's Inter-Departmental Working Group produced a Consultation Draft of the NAP and invited Civil Society Organizations to provide written submissions and participate in NGO-government roundtable discussions in the national capital.
The development of the NAP was led by Australian Government Office for Women, which was tasked with convening the Women, Peace and Security Inter Departmental Working Group. The Women, Peace, and Security Inter Departmental Working Group included representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Department of Defence, AGD Attorney General’s Department, AusAID, Australian Centre for Civil-Military Relations and Australian Federal Police (AFP), as well as Office for Women.
Non-governmental organisations have played an instrumental role in the development of the National Action Plan and are critical of its implementation. In its NAP, the Australian Government commits itself to work collaboratively with the non-governmental sector to realize the goals and commitments outlined in the NAP. The NAP itself commits to supporting civil society organizations to promote equality and increase women's participation.
The Women, Peace and Security Inter-Departmental Working Group will continue to operate as the primary Australian Government mechanism responsible for Australia’s implementation of UNSCR 1325.
NAP Monitoring and Evaluation
The Australian NAP invites organizations to nominate a selection of representatives to meet with the Government’s Inter-Departmental Working Group which focuses on Women, Peace and Security issues each year to share information, discuss progress and exchange ideas about the implementation of the National Action Plan. The Steering Committee planning and organizing the Dialogue and Report Card are WILPF Australia, UN Women Committee Australia, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), in addition to these, the ANU Gender Institute of the Australian National University is also a part of the Steering Committee. The forming of the Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace, and Security thus supporting the implementation of the NAP. A civil society report card on Australia’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security will be produced annually until 2018. A total of six Annual Civil Society Report Cards will comprise the full shadow report. A copy of the current report card can be found attached below. The NAP also encourages Civil Society to develop shadow reports of the NAP implementation, which the Government will make publicly available.
The Women, Peace and Security Inter-Departmental Working Group will meet biannually to discuss the National Action Plan and have high level representation from all key agencies (listed above).
WILPF's Contributions to Australia's NAP
WILPF Australia was instrumental throughout all stages of the NAP development by lobbying and informing the process. In 2004 WILPF Australia received funding from the Australian Government Office for Women to develop a website promoting UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and produce a discussion paper outlining recommendations for the national implementation of UNSCR 1325.
In 2009, in partnership with UN Women and other organizations, WILPF initiated national consultations to inform the Australian government on the next steps of NAP development. These consultations witnessed the participation of almost 90 community and national organizations, and were held in all Australian capital cities. The findings and recommendations of these consultations were presented to the Australian Government in a Final Civil Society Report. Following these consultations, WILPF put forward a proposal to the government, and the development of a NAP was included as one of ten top priority areas of action for women.
WILPF Australia collaborated with the NGO Working Group to produce a detailed written submission to the Consultation Draft of the NAP. The Australian Young-WILPF section, which was formed in 2011, also provided a detailed submission. WILPF and Young-WILPF Australia took part in the NGO roundtable discussions, which included representatives from the government’s Inter-Departmental Working Group. Although no specific role is designated to NGOs in implementing, monitoring, or reviewing the NAP with the exception of relevant government departments for NGO programs and provision for one meeting of the Interdepartmental Working Group with two or three representatives from civil society who meet once a year. WILPF and ACFID represented civil society at the one meeting with the Working Group last year.
Due to the lack of provision for civil society involvement in monitoring and reviewing, WILPF initiated a series of video/teleconferences with all organizations interested in the NAP to discuss ideas for formulating a process for civil society involvement in monitoring the NAP. This resulted in the forming of the Australian Civll Society Coalition on Women, Peace and Security (ACSCWPS)- which supports the NAP. In 2012 WILPF Australia established an ongoing 1325 working group, which is tasked with overseeing NAP implementation and producing a shadow monitoring report during review phases of the NAP.
The Australian NAP covers the time period 2012 to 2018. No specific timeframes are set for Actions. However, there is a series of deadlines scheduled for reporting and review (see Monitoring and Evaluation, below).
The Australian NAP is organized into five Thematic Areas that are designed to reflect UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions, as well as the UN 2008–2009 System-wide Action Plan. These Thematic Areas include: Prevention, Participation, Protection, Relief and Recovery, and Normative.
A number of the Actions outlined in the NAP cut across the five thematic areas. As a result, the areas of Action have been organized into Strategies:
- Strategic Objective 1: Integrate a gender perspective into Australia’s policies on peace and security.
- Strategy Objective 2: Embed the Women, Peace and Security agenda in the Australian Government’s approach to human resource management of Defence, Australian Federal Police and deployed personnel.
- Strategic Objective 3: Support civil society organizations to promote equality and increase women’s participation in conflict prevention, peace-building, conflict resolution, and relief and recovery.
- Strategic Objective 4: Promote Women, Peace and Security implementation internationally.
- Strategy Objective 5: Take a co-coordinated and holistic approach domestically and internationally to Women, Peace and Security.
Each Strategic Objective of the Australian NAP includes a series of actions for practically achieving these goals, which are also categorized by thematic area.
For Example, Strategic Objective 3 “Support civil society organizations to promote equality and increase women’s participation in conflict prevention, peace-building, conflict resolution, and relief and recovery” contains the following actions:
- Support domestic non-government organizations, such as the National Women’s Alliances, and international civil society organizations to engage in peace and security initiatives, including by raising awareness of UNSCR 1325.
- Support Australian and international civil society organizations to promote the roles and address the needs of women in the prevention, management and resolution of conflict.
- Invite Australian non-government organizations to nominate a selection of representatives to meet with the Women, Peace and Security Inter-departmental Working Group once a year.
- Encourage an understanding of Women, Peace and Security amongst the Australian public.
The Australia NAP lists measures associated with each strategic objective in its monitoring and evaluation framework. These range from measurable and specific to non-measurable and vague, and are principally qualitative in nature.
Example taken from Strategy 4: Promote Women, Peace and Security Implementation Internationally:
Measure A: Description of international assistance provided for activities pertaining to Women, Peace and Security
Measure E: Number and description of interventions and support of resolutions and policy in the UN Security Council, General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council and other relevant fora addressing Women, Peace and Security issues.
Monitoring and Evaluation
A full Monitoring and Evaluation Framework is included in the Australian NAP. It includes measures that are principally qualitative in nature and linked to accountable actors. These measures are neither attached to an allocated or estimated budget, nor timeframes for implementation.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Framework will be used for bi-annual reporting. The first review will be an interim review, which will focus on assessing whether the actions under the National Action Plan are still relevant. The interim review will also provide guidance for the remainder of the National Action Plan’s implementation, including advice on emerging issues related to Women, Peace and Security. The final review will take place as the National Action Plan approaches its expiry. It will assess the overall success of the National Action Plan and provide advice on the direction and focus of its revision/renewal. The review periods are scheduled as follows:
- Progress reports in 2014 and 2016
- Interim review in 2015
- Final review in 2018
These reports will be tabled in parliament and made publicly available. Civil Society is also encouraged to develop shadow reports that will be made publicly available.
The Australian NAP does not include an allocated or estimated budget and there are no other financial resource consideration references within the NAP. However, it does note that the absence of dedicated funding and exclusion of earmarked funds within existing departmental budgets is a key concern for successful NAP implementation and accountability. This issue was raised by Civil Society throughout all stages of consultation.
The Australian NAP narrative mentions Australia’s engagement in multilateral disarmament conventions and its support for the implementation of resolutions on small arms control. However, the actions and monitoring and evaluation framework does not address disarmament issues or connect the proliferation of weapons to women’s insecurity.