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Crisis as catalyst: Takeaways from the 2021 GenderSmart Global Investing Summit

News Stories /30 April 2021

The 2021 GenderSmart Global Investing Summit in February gathered 500 delegates from 53 countries to discuss how to use finance as a tool for social change and to identify new market opportunities—opportunities for transformative impact. The past year has seen the growth of the gender lens investing (GLI) field, with investors acknowledging that gender, race and other forms of diversity and lived experience are linked to investment outcomes and material to the post-pandemic recovery.

The 2021 Summit offered workshops and discussions delivered by 150 expert moderators and speakers from across the investment spectrum. Sessions ranged from climate and gender finance and investing in racial equity, to gender-smart global supply chains and supporting first-time fund managers. Given that gender patterns inform risks and opportunities in investments, data and insights from key women’s rights or civil society organisations were also utilised to enrich the discussions.

Key takeaways from the Summit

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  • Investors now have the tools they need for due diligence, narrative, underwriting, and data. Their next job is to scale and spread those tools far and wide.
  • The conversation is shifting from why investors should deploy their capital with a gender lens to the how, where, and with whom. This also means looking systematically at who is deploying capital and how to modify ways of working to ensure greater impact and to identify investable opportunities previously missed.
  • Intersectional investing is becoming the norm and investors are taking an expansive approach to gender smart investing, helping to move the field from niche to normal. Rather than seeing a dual lens as a limitation that makes it harder to find investable opportunities, investors are increasingly viewing this as a tool to help them more fully address the complex issues they are working on.
  • Gender inequality—i.e., blocks to women’s equal participation in the workforce, unequal distribution of care responsibilities at home, or the role that gender plays in how infrastructure is used—poses risks to businesses and economies. Women entrepreneurs and fund managers are not “riskier” investments; the real investment risk is not accounting for gender and other forms of diversity in one’s analysis.
  • If gender lens investors want a future where all capital has a gender lens, the GLI community needs to continue to grow their reach and connect the dots throughout the entire investment ecosystem. Moreover, women are the leaders and innovators in gender-smart investing, but men need to see this as their work as well, to achieve system-wide transformation.

Key takeaways are culled from the Executive Summary provided on the 2021 GenderSmart Global Investing Summit microsite. Visit the microsite for the complete list of insights.

You may also monitor the GenderSmart website to stay updated on upcoming events.



Investing in Women (IW) and Value for Women recently published a landscape report, Gender lens investing in Southeast Asia: A snapshot of progress in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam which provides case studies of gender lens investing practices in the region.

IW and Value for Women also provide a toolkit, How to invest with a gender lens: A guide for investor in emerging markets.

Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Catalyst at Large, and SAGANA previously published the Gender Lens Investing Landscape report that listed, among other things, the top sectors for gender-smart investing in East and South East Asia. This report was cited in the GenderSmart Global Investing Summit regional brief.

You may also review other relevant GLI resources from IW partners onsite.

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