Mapping Gender Lens Investing in the Global South
Gender Lens Investing in Ghana, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam
What is Gender Lens Investing?
Pioneered by the Criterion Institute, a think tank based in the United States, and taken up and adapted by an increasing variety of actors over the past decade, Gender lens investing (GLI) is defined as “the incorporation of a gender analysis into the practice of investments and the systems of finance. This includes how value is assigned, how relationships are structured, and how processes work.”
GLI is still a relatively new concept. According to the Criterion Institute, there are three basic ways that an investment can impact gender: access to capital, workplace equity, and products and services that benefit women and girls. Applying GLI in context requires navigating serval complex, interconnected dimensions; gender influences the structure of a society, and investors need to work within and understand these structures, even while they may be actively seeking to change them. GLI encourages investors and investees alike to understand the role of gender in impacting access to capital, and to approach it honestly in order to capitalize on the social and economic benefits of empowering women.
Where is Gender Lens Investing Happening?
A number of GLI initiatives have been active in the global North, and their models are now spreading to developing countries. This expansion of GLI work has lead to a range of conversations about how GLI can be most effective outside of the global North. This research project contributes to the conversation of GLI expansion in the global South by mapping the field of GLI in four countries: Ghana, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. In these countries, which are poorer than countries in the global North but are also dynamic and entrepreneurial, GLI can be a means of supporting inclusive economic growth.
The research considers the general trends within and between countries in the interest of providing recommendations that can address multiple contexts. In discussing GLI, the approach was to take in a wide array of information in each of the fields. This meant considering any and all ideas that linked gender to finance and business, any and all stakeholders who saw connections between gender and business or financial decision-making, and any and all projects and activities that could be seen as linking gender and finance. The broad definition of GLI that is used in this study has meant that the research also involved investigating the relationship of GLI to impact investing.
Overall, this report will be valuable in outlining the general ecosystems of GLI in Ghana, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, as well as planning for further research and potential design and operationalization of policy and programming interventions.