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Food for thought: Gender equality, charitable endowments

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Published: 25 March 2022

OEDC’s report on gender equality in blended finance, Impact Investing Institute’s guide for charitable endowments, and Equal Measure’s latest 2030 SDG Gender Index

The development finance community should increase its focus on gender equality in blended finance | Photo by Mikel Parera on Unsplash

Our editorial team highlights recent research papers and sector reports which add to the debate on impact investing.

OECD on gender equality in blended finance 

The development finance community should increase its focus on gender equality in large blended finance projects, including infrastructure investments and climate finance, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development concluded in its report ‘Blended Finance for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls‘.   

This is particularly important after the Covid-19 pandemic, the OECD said, which “risks reversing hard-won development and gender equality gains.”  

Out of the financial assets under management by blended finance vehicles, only 1% (or $1 billion) is dedicated to gender equality as the main objective, while 65% (or $49 billion) integrates gender equality as a mainstreamed objective. The remaining 33% (or $25 billion) does not identify gender equality as an objective. 

At the moment, more than 30% of blended finance vehicles dedicated to gender equality and 60% of blended finance projects that mainstream gender equality “do not report transparently on the impact of their investments,” the OECD said.  

The organisation called for financial services companies to improve the integration of gender equality throughout the entire investment cycle, ranging from due diligence to exit. “This should include more transparency and better reporting of development impact results,” it concluded. 

Investing with impact in the endowment

With the support from the UK’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and working in partnership with other key players, the Impact Investing Institute aims to increase the volume of charitable endowment assets invested for positive social and environmental impact as well as financial return.

The Institute has just published ‘Investing for impact in the endowment: Why do it and how to get started’ guide, designed to help foundation leaders and the professionals around them to make their first moves into impact investing.

The guide sets definitions of impact investing, and exposes some prevalent myths concerning legality and financial returns, the reasons why endowments should invest with impact and the products and tools they can employ to help them to achieve this aim.

It also includes case studies and practical steps which endowments can take to become impact investors.

Equal Measures warns on gender equality 

The 2022 Equal Measures 2030 SDG Gender Index sounds the alarm bell on gender equality, concluding that “global progress has been slow and marginal – at best – over the past five years.” Fewer than one in four countries are making “fast” progress towards gender equality, while a third are making no progress at all, or “are moving in the wrong direction”.

Equal Measures, a coalition of feminist advocacy groups, including the Gates Foundation, measures the empowerment of women and girls across a variety of metrics, ranging from workplace rights to education and health. 

The report is based on data analysis between 2015 and 2020, and its authors warn that the picture for women and girls is even worse today if the Covid-19 pandemic is taken into account. And even more ominously, Equal Measures warns the world is not on track to meet the 2030 deadline for the achievement of gender equality as demanded by the United Nations’ SDGs.   

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