Gender Lens Investing is Essential to Rebuilding a Thriving Economy

Dear Colleagues:  

There is no question that the past year forced us to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of global disruption to create new pathways to accomplish our missions. We recently shared our key take-aways for our sector, among them, that we must not only use every tool we have at our disposal, but that we must also change the rulebook on how those tools are used.  

The rules on how we move grant funds were a good start. However, to rebuild a thriving economy centered on the dignity and agency of marginalized genders in communities of color – we must also approach our investments with a bold gender lens strategy. 

What exactly is gender lens investing — and why is it so crucial now, more than ever before? Simply put – gender lens investing is a way for individuals and organizations to align their values and commitment to dismantling an inequitable system with their money.  

Many of you know Tuti Scott, Founder of Changemaker Strategies, former board member and once-fellow at WFN. Her latest book, ‘Moving Money for Impact: A Guide to Gender Lens Investing,’ is launching today on the WFN website. For philanthropists, board members, and investors of all genders who seek to make “money moves that matter,” this guide is an introduction to gender lens investing that came about largely in response to questions and needs expressed by the WFN community. 

“We need to use the solutions and opportunities in all areas where money is being moved to apply a gender and social inclusion lens to our giving, investing, spending, consuming and savings,” said Scott in a recent interview with WFN. “We need to move from the why to the how. If not now, when.”  

The book features several members of WFN who are leading the way when it comes to gender lens investing. Texas Women’s Foundation was the first to adjust its investment strategy with a gender lens, leading to 100% of its financial assets being invested in a gendered impact portfolio. This yielded strong financial returns and social benefits to women and girls. Teresa Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, asked a crucial question when she took the helm — “are our assets in the foundation’s endowment in sync with its mission?” This led to a game-changing process where the organization has more than doubled their investment, reinvesting millions in their grantees as a result of this gender-lens investing strategy. 

I am proud to be part of a network of leaders who are using money to change the rules on who gets to have, and wield, power. By increasing women’s access to capital, funding women’s businesses, and/or empowering women to be investors and movers of capital, you are creating a new vision for our collective future. Thank you for all you do.  

Yours in Solidarity,  

Elizabeth Signature

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
Women’s Funding Network 
President & CEO

Letters from Elizabeth