The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced its first-ever gender equality strategy, which will commit $170 million to women’s economic empowerment. Previously, the foundation’s investments in gender-related work focused largely on areas such as family planning and nutrition, as well as financial services for the poor.

“We’re aiming to invest this $170 million over four years to support four critical and integrated pillars on women’s economic empowerment,” said Sarah Hendriks, director of gender equality at the Gates Foundation.

The first area of focus is financial inclusion. The second area looks at assets and issues such as land ownership and land tenure security and the third area focuses on opportunity. Finally, the foundation will support efforts related to the support and connection of women, in particular through self-help groups.

Building on their past investments in self-help groups in India, the gender equality team wants to double down and expand this work. The Gates Foundation is interested not only in scaling the self-help group model in Africa, but also in finding new models that empower adolescent girls and experimenting with the role digital technology might play in enabling women and groups to connect with each other, Hendriks said.

In a commentary piece, Melinda Gates has called on the foundation and the development sector more broadly to become more intentional about putting women and girls at the center of development work.

Read the full article about Gates foundation gender equality strategy by Catherine Cheney at Devex.