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Innovating for gender equality

GIF's Gender Toolkit
GIF utilizes gender analysis tools to support diligence on all deals and help us think about gender across for-profit and not-for-profit models and against core investment criteria of innovation, scale, evidence, and cost-effectiveness. The toolkit we developed allows for a deep dive into gender issues for gender impact-focused innovations and right-sizing of related diligence for innovations primarily seeking other impact outcomes. This toolkit is comprised of:

  • The Gender Equality Framework, illustrating how GIF looks at innovations that promote gender equality by increasing the agency of women and girls.
  • The Gender Marker, which enables a rapid assessment of the gender dimensions of an innovation
  • GIF’s Gender Questions, an analysis-to-action tool to help start conversations with innovators identify specific actions to strengthen strategy, and build capacity of innovators to understand and address gender equality in all facets of their innovations.
  • Practical Impact Gender Outcomes Summary, a summary paper on how GIF ensures gender equality outcomes are captured in its impact framework.

Since its founding in 2015, GIF’s portfolio has included investments that disproportionately benefit women and girls including innovations related to anemia prevention, women’s role in agricultural supply chains, and the promotion of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

Now, through its Innovating for Gender Equality fund, made possible by Global Affairs Canada, GIF seeks innovations that increase the agency of women and girls by addressing a wider range of outcomes, such as greater participation by women in decision making, prevention of violence against women and girls, and greater control over assets. With this fund, GIF has accelerated strategic and coherent action on gender, widespread across the organisation. The Innovating for Gender Equality fund fills a gap in the global landscape at the intersections of gender equality, innovation and impact-first financing.

Through investments in innovations from this fund, GIF seeks to contribute to shifting the structures that make gender equality possible. These innovations operate differently from ‘standard’ development interventions by seeking to change social structures or social norms.

Remarkable innovations hailing from sub-Saharan Africa to the Indo-Pacific are tackling the structural constraints to gender equality by promoting the agency of women and girls. Through inclusive collaboration with a wide-range of stakeholders, a strengthened pipeline of gender innovations, and adopting and evolving best practice, the Innovating for Gender Equality fund seeks to strengthen the broader fields of impact investing, gender-lens investing and innovation in international development.

The case for innovations that strive for gender equality became even more apparent with COVID-19. Women’s vulnerability increases in roles as unpaid care givers, and safety decreases under stay at home orders. Women are more likely to be excluded from the formal employment market and as a result work as street entrepreneurs, selling food and non-food items. According to the Global Protection Cluster, the COVID-19 crisis has heightened the risk of physical and sexual violence and abuse; psychological distress; social exclusion; stigmatisation; discrimination; and limited and/or discriminatory access to health services.

Application of a gender-lens to all GIF investments

In addition to its growing portfolio of gender equality-focused innovations, GIF applies a gender lens to all investments. First through starting conversations with funding applicants around GIF’s Gender Questions which help to analyse the possible gendered impact of all facets of an innovation. Then through, GIF’s Gender Marker, a light-touch review that provides a rapid overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the gender approach of an innovation.

Investments in the Innovating for Gender Equality fund and other GIF innovations focusing on gender equality go through a second-stage analysis using GIF’s “gender dive” tool to take a much deeper look at the issues at the individual, household/community level, business, and structural level and therefore develop a gender strategy.

Alongside ensuring new investments collect sex-disaggregated data and include other gender deliverables, GIF continues to monitor the portfolio on women’s leadership, staff, gender of beneficiaries and compliance with ESG Action Plans that relate to quality of roles and diversity.

Advancing Gender Data and Measuring Gender Outcomes

GIF seeks to maximise the benefits it creates by forecasting the long-run potential impacts of candidate investments and tracking and managing impacts as they are realised. For this fund, GIF has adapted its Practical Impact methodology to interventions and outcomes relevant to gender equality as we work to quantify results in empowerment, agency and changing norms in order to encourage learning on how to effectively make use of the scarce resources devoted to gender equality.

Quantifying gender equality guides investment, promotes learning, and directs more attention and resources towards women’s empowerment.

This detailed methodology and approach was shared with gender experts and development economists as part of a robust consultation with the stakeholders for the gender equality sub-fund, resulting in expert reviews through written feedback and direct conversations. GIF received overarching support to pursue Practical Impact expansion for gender equality and is committed to sharing the expanded Practical Impact methodology with other investors and innovators to support the efforts of those tackling gender inequality issues in development contexts.

GIF Gender Equity Fund Investments 


No Means No Worldwide

A $1.9M Test & Transition grant to No Means No Worldwide following a successful Pilot grant provided in 2018. No Means No Worldwide will use this funding to support the expansion of its successful No Means No curriculum, which is taught to both girls and boys aged 10-20 years in schools and clubs, and refine its partnership model to achieve scale. The curriculum aims to reduce violence against women and girls, and empower girls to stand up for their rights. To learn more about our investment click here.

(Photo by Nadja Wohlleben, Photojournalist and Documentary Photographer)


A charity that aims to treat depression in women in Africa with less than $2 per day to spend on their families.

StrongMinds currently operates in Uganda and Zambia and addresses depression by delivering facilitator and peer-led courses of Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy (or IPT-G), a cost-efficient, community-based model of depression treatment that has been created and validated by mental health experts. To learn more about our investment click here.


Breakthrough, an Indian non-profit address gender inequality and violence against women in India. TKT is their gender equality curriculum delivered to students between the ages of 11 and 14 which has been shown to drive positive changes in adolescents’ gender attitudes and behaviours.

GIF funding will enable Breakthrough to scale TKT across 4,500 government schools in Punjab and conduct a pilot to develop the model for scale-up in 100 schools in Odisha. To learn more about our investment click here.


Buildher trains women from Nairobi’s informal settlements through a 12-month programme to help them secure skilled employment in the traditionally male-dominated construction sector; and works with partner firms in the construction sector to make their workplaces more gender inclusive, including through changing workplace facilities and enacting sexual harassment policies.

The social enterprise will use a $230,000 pilot grant to expand the current programme by onboarding new partner firms and training more women. GIF investment will also enable Buildher to strengthen its monitoring and evaluation function to better assess the impacts for women, including the agency gains they experience from succeeding in an industry from which they have typically been excluded. To learn more about our investment click here.


MTV Staying Alive Foundation produces campaigns that aim to address gender-based violence and wider gender issues as part of the TV series and multimedia campaign MTV Shuga.

The scripted drama follows the lives of young people on the African continent and showcases educational storylines about sexual health, family planning, and living with HIV. With GIF’s grant of $675,000, storylines that focus on violence against women and girls, and other gender issues, will be expanded on. Under the grant, MTV Staying Alive Foundation will seek to engage female-led African production houses to collaboratively produce the content. To learn more about our investment click here.

Impact(Ed) International

Impact(Ed) International’s flagship ‘edu-tainment’ series, My Better World, follows six African teens as they navigate the complex challenges of school, family, and friendship. It is a unique tool included in Impact(Ed)’s life skills education and mentorship model, delivered to school children aged 10-15, which includes engagement of boys, parents and communities to enable an environment for girls to exercise agency and develop the skills they need to succeed in school and in life. With GIF's grant of $2 million a standardised, well-documented innovation package that is impactful, feasible using government infrastructure for delivery and cost-effective for the government to implement will be established. Under the grant, Impact(Ed) will seek to integrate this model in government policy implementation in Kenya. To learn more about our investment click here.


Additional Gender Resources