Who has a say matters | Part 3 | Playbook: Investing in Gender Equality

December 17, 2020

Welcome to Playbook: Investing in Gender Equality, a six-part blog series that explores why and how an investment program is an essential part of the Equality Fund’s work to shift power to women, youth, girls, and non-binary people around the world. Through the lens of six “P”s (Purpose, People and Partners, Perspectives, Process, Philosophy, and Products), we will share our approach to gender-lens investing and illuminate the values, strategy, and structure that guide it.

PART 3: PERSPECTIVES — WHO HAS A SAY MATTERS

By Bonnie Foley-Wong

At the Equality Fund, we envision a world where all women, youth, girls, and non-binary people have the power and freedom to choose their own path and realize their own dreams.

At its core, the purpose of our investment program is to help realize this vision by making money work for gender equality twice—first as it is invested with a gender lens, and then again as the returns are put to use by women’s rights organizations in communities around the world. Over the last year, we have built a committed team of people and partners to translate this vision into action.

We are at the intersection of the investment ecosystem and feminist movements. We know that our success depends fundamentally on listening deeply to the people who have a stake in our work. At every step, we welcome and invite feedback and diverse perspectives from a range of communities, culture holders and practitioners, to hear of their experiences as well as their expertise, many of whom have been excluded from investment decisions of this scale. Together, they challenge, inform, and inspire us—helping us realize the full potential of our investment program to truly shift power and secure a gender-equal future.

In conversation with activists around the globe

The Equality Fund’s primary mandate is to support women’s rights organizations and feminist movements in the global South, from individual organizations building collective power in their communities to coalitions creating change on the global stage. This support begins with providing a platform to amplify the voices of women’s rights organizations globally and listening to what feminist movements are saying about how information is shared, decisions are made, and investment activities are governed.

To that end, the Equality Fund approached the Association for Women’s Rights in Development to undertake in-depth consultations with feminist movements to generate actionable recommendations to shape our work. The consultations included both face-to-face and online meetings, and over the course of six months engaged more than 1,000 activists and organizers from over 66 countries.

These consultations have generated thoughtful recommendations about every aspect of our work, from grantmaking and philanthropy to investment and governance. The Equality Fund has carefully considered all of the recommendations and will be providing a thorough response in the weeks ahead.

As part of our investment activities, we want to hear directly—and regularly—from feminist activists in the global South who have lived experience of the many global challenges impacted by investment decisions and actions, including: climate change, economic inequalities, gender-based violence, and more. We will continue to listen, learn, and examine how shifting investment decisions can influence positive change for women, youth, girls, and non-binary people globally.

Investment Advisory Council

The Equality Fund and our partners will also rely on an Investment Advisory Council to provide input into our investment strategy.

With a diverse global membership, the Investment Advisory Council is designed to foster dialogue with our many stakeholders, ensuring their views are considered and incorporated into the Equality Fund’s investment activities while providing advice to the Equality Fund investment team and committee on its approach to gender-lens investing. The Investment Advisory Council is currently in development and we will share more in the future as this work advances.

The global consultations and the Investment Advisory Council are avenues where diverse perspectives can provide feedback on the investment program and our investment strategy.

Shifting lasting power

Change begins with a seat at the table. But for too long, women, youth, girls, and non-binary people, especially in the global South, have been denied a voice in investment decisions that shape the future of their lives and communities.

We seek to model a new way forward. By incorporating feminist perspectives into the very core of our investment practices, we hope to demonstrate the enormous potential for gender-lens investing to shift meaningful resources—and lasting power— to women, youth, girls, and non-binary people across the world.

NEXT UP — we will examine the Process that brings all of these different elements together and guides our day-to-day work.

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