Gender Lens Investing

Today I find myself reflecting on one of my trips to Nairobi, Kenya in my capacity as a Social Innovator advising @Ashoka on ways to integrate young people and marginalised communities into their development efforts. Having a deep appreciation of just hoe much youth empowerment is highly gendered, in my contribution I highlighted the importance of gender lens investing.

One of the most compelling aspects of gender lens investing is its potential not only to incorporate women and girls into systems that have excluded them – but to change those systems. And to change them by applying values and practices women prioritize in order to build more just and inclusive societies. Therefore it seems quite critical for capital to be directed more towards projects and enterprises which speak to this.

To comprehensively address gender equality in developing nations, before tackling investor behaviour we must explore and unpack the issues of access, agency and power. Imbalances found in these areas is where the core of the problem lies. By increasing access, enhancing inherent agency and empowering women with skills and resources, we can begin to shift the narrative. A great illustration of this is found in agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa.

In sub-Saharan Africa, women play a critical role in agriculture.

  • Women constitute on average 50% of the agricultural labour force in sub-Saharan Africa and spend 30-80% of their time engaged in agricultural activities.
  • Women are the traditional managers of food production for household subsistence and contribute 85-90% of the total time spent on household food processing and preparation.
  • Women spend a disproportionately higher percentage of income on food, health and education of their families. Hence, women play a crucial role in improving the nutrition and general well-being of their households.
  • Female smallholders are often perceived as more reliable suppliers and as being more likely to apply what they learn in training, and to adopt new farming techniques.

This highlights great opportunity and potential for both social and financial return by investing in women.

#ImpactInvesting #GenderLensInvesting #SDG5 #SDG17

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