Responsible financing models, platforms and activities have skyrocketed in the last few years. Trends show that stocks with sound environmental and social targets may fare better than those without these targets, even in times of crisis.

At the basic level, a claim of responsible finance indicates that investments catalyze positive outcomes alongside financial returns. Responsible finance can also help investors reach their sustainable development goal (SDG) targets. In Southeast Asia, there is growing interest in one responsible financing approach that focuses on women’s economic empowerment, often called “gender-lens investing”. Gender-lens investing can have positive impacts on women (and their families’) health, safety, education and livelihoods.

In this article, Erin Sweeney and Melanie Levine, committee members of Women in Agribusiness Asia (WOMAG), explore opportunities, case studies, and trends in gender-lens investing in agriculture. They also share resources and organizations that can inform your investment considerations.

Why Should Investors Consider Women?

Gender-lens investments can include deploying capital to women-owned enterprises, women-led businesses, and companies which center women and girls as part of their business model (among others). Of course, a financial return is also expected.

Women account for just over 40% of the agricultural labor force. Yet, women in forestry, agriculture and fisheries receive just 7% of agricultural investment. Women in the agriculture sector face significant barriers in accessing finance, especially in rural economies. These constraints vary across cultures and geographies, depending on entrenched gender norms, sex-based laws and regulations, and access to education. Women often spend more time managing their households, which limits the hours allotted to engage in financial endeavors. Further, banks may not view women as legitimate clients, assuming their primary responsibilities are in the domestic sphere and that they can rely on spouses or fathers for resources.

Read the full article about women empowerment through gender-lens investing by Melanie Levine and Erin Sweeney at AVPN.