One year ago, Criterion Institute and USAID started a journey together of exploring the state of gender lens investing in Asia. Gender lens investing had literature and visible leadership primarily concentrated in North America and Europe, however we sought to highlight the leadership and activity of how Asian markets were integrating a gender analysis into financial analysis to make better investment decisions.

There is an active and growing field of gender lens investing in Asia. Tweet This Quote

The goal of our effort was to understand existing leaders and activities, and make recommendations to accelerate leadership and activity in the field of gender lens investing throughout the region.

We traveled to seven countries and met hundreds of collaborators and partners, as well as convened leaders who are in a position to advance the field. Not only did we find that there is an active and growing field of gender lens investing in Asia, we found amazing leaders and activities already underway, as well as innovations to approaches that can shape the field globally. The USAID report, Gender Lens Investing in Asia, documents these people and stories.

“Gender lens investing is a paradigm shift in the way we promote gender equality and thus also qualitatively impact investment scenarios. At ICRW we hope to shape the field and help connect the critical dots in the coming years.” —Ravi Verma, International Center for Research on Women

The world of finance is changing faster than ever at a global scale, and with it the way we view and value women and girls. Tweet This Quote

The potential for the field of gender lens investing in Asia is to serve as a needed bridge between two established areas of leadership and expertise—gender studies and finance—and to enable a broader conversation about opportunities to create gender-equitable social change.

The Women Impact Alliance platform launching in India and the GREAT Women ASEAN Initiative are just a couple of examples of the field’s growth in Asia. While the report demonstrates some of the work already being done, there are countless other opportunities left to be captured.

“Asia hosts an incredible set of opportunities to frame, lead and demonstrate success in gender lens investing. In my work on the capacity building of impact investors, I hope that the year ahead will bring an increased amount of better, smarter capital towards gender lens investing impact capital across asset classes—there is a real opportunity for gender lens investing to be part of the mainstream conversation, expanding and deepening the current early stage-focused work and a community of collaborative players who demonstrate that gender lens investing can have increased impact and return, who set standards and share data to take forward our early efforts in this space.”—Shalaka Joshi, Toniic

The world of finance is changing faster than ever at a global scale, and with it the way we view and value women and girls. Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls will have increased emphasis in the soon to be launched Sustainable Development Goals.

We encourage you to explore finance as another tool for achieving gender-equitable social change. Tweet This Quote

We encourage you to incorporate gender lens investing into your financial strategy. We encourage you to explore finance as another tool for achieving gender-equitable social change. You can begin by engaging in conversations and partaking in conferences such as Sankalp Southeast Asia. Seek out the opportunities to connect to other leaders and organizations shaping the field, many of which are named in the report. Help bridge data gaps, and collaborate with others to build the field.

The Gender Lens Investing in Asia report serves as a platform for pushing the field forward. We invite you to read the report, spread it with others, and to share your own experiences of why this work is relevant.

Editor’s note: This is the final post in Joy and Patty’s series exploring entrepreneurship and investing in Asia through a gender lens. Be sure to read the rest of USAID’s Gender Lens Investing in Asia report.

About the author

Patty Alleman & Joy Anderson

Patty Alleman & Joy Anderson

Patty Alleman is the Senior Regional Gender Advisor for USAID's Regional Development Mission for Asia, and Joy Anderson is the founding president of Criterion Institute, a research and education nonprofit that broadens who and what matters in reinventing the economy. Their writings are on their travels in Asia as they seek to map the landscape, meet the players, and build a foundation for gender equality by investing in women and girls.

  • Patty Alleman

    USAID is very honored to work with Criterion Institute, Unreasonable, and the many other leaders in the field of gender lens investing- who we recognize and amplify in this blog and report. We look forward to continuing to be an active participant in the advancement of #GenderLensAsia, and globally. As the world launches a stand alone Sustainable Development Goal #Global Goals for achieving gender equality and empowering women, it is my hope that #genderlensinvesting can attract even more committed individuals and institutions- thus exceeding all Goal targets.

  • Nace Crawford

    This is an interesting article that provides yet another facet on the rest the series that Joy and Patty have created over the past year or so. Using data points related to gender helps figure out where the deficits are in terms of additional financing. Business and government leaders can then try to fill in the gaps.

    This was also an interesting USAID report. Thanks for your work in this area. It appears that there are a number of leaders in this area and progress is being made. As impact financing and gender specific focus is increasingly part of social projects, we will see change in women’s empowerment.

    One of the primary concerns is helping these women beyond the financial aspects. It’s providing training for them to be entrepreneurs. This way they can grow their businesses into something more than just helping themselves and their families. They can grow to a mid size business or larger, which can have a greater benefit on their communities.

    Providing a business education and running a successful business may be contingent on the
    level of education that women already have been provided. They need to have basic reading, writing and
    math skills. Educated women also have an impact on child mortality, social mobility and family dignity. The impact may be hard to quantify as the impact may be inter-generational. Educated women may ensure that their daughters and grand-daughters get educations and become entrepreneurs as well. They can also
    encourage others in the communities.

    The second stage is then using that education. Even when women have an education they often find very limited opportunities outside the house and that’s where this program comes in.

    The next step is growing their business from a sustenance business to something that is sustainable. Armed with this experience, women can then have a more impactful role in running larger

    I think these data points are helpful. Do we have a sense beyond textile manufacturing and sale, how many are moving into other fields such as STEM, social entrepreneurship, etc? Great series of articles ladies!