MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Government of Australia has agreed to extend an untied A$1 million grant for an Asian Development Bank (ADB) administered fund targeted at narrowing gender gaps in Asia and the Pacific.

The Gender and Development Cooperation Fund, established in 2003, finances ADB activities, including technical assistance projects, which promote gender equality and women's empowerment in developing member countries. Other contributors include the governments of Canada, Norway, Denmark and Ireland.

Women make up the bulk of the extreme poor in Asia and the Pacific and are commonly excluded from access to resources, essential services and decision making. Reducing gender disparities in education, health care, economic participation and income are crucial to any successful poverty reduction strategy and to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

"The Fund is critically important to ADB's efforts to implement its Gender Policy commitments for narrowing gender gaps and empowering women through its operations. We are extremely grateful to the Government of Australia for its invaluable contribution," said Tadashi Kondo, Head of ADB's Office of Cofinancing Operations.

Grant funds will be used for activities which speed up gender mainstreaming in developing member countries, with a particular focus on innovative approaches to promoting gender equality through large-scale infrastructure investments such as energy and transport projects. These approaches include undertaking gender assessments to address the lack of social and gender analysis in large projects and improving opportunities for women to work on large scale infrastructure projects. ADB will be responsible for identifying and implementing the activities and will fully inform AusAID of their objectives, scope, geographic coverage, estimated costs and implementation schedule.

Annual consultations will be held between AusAID and ADB to review the initiatives and their results, and to make adjustments where necessary.