Earlier this year, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF) partnered to unlock US$ 150 million in capital for gender lens investing in Asia. Since then, ESCAP has been working with SEAF on a number of activities, including supporting the development of the SEAF Gender Equality Scorecard© (GES) Manual.
The Gender Equality Scorecard (GES) is a tool to assess women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in growth-orientated small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The manual gives clear guidance to investment and gender professionals on assessing a company’s demonstrated commitment to gender equality by focusing on six performance criteria, namely pay equity, women’s workforce participation, gender diverse leadership and governance, benefits and professional development, safe and healthy workplace environment, and women-powered value chains. The tool identifies areas for organizational improvement and supports the development of a gender improvement plan.
The launch of the GES Manual took place at the closing session of the GenderSmart Virtual Programme today. On the occasion, Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP said, “Investing in women has the potential to accelerate the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as we enter the Decade of Action. ESCAP is proud to be supporting SEAF to advancing gender lens investing in Asia.”
SEAF Senior Managing Director Jennifer Buckley shared, “today, I am humbled with gratitude as I have witnessed a community coming together across the globe to generously share their expertise, knowledge and connections enabling us to reach a significant milestone in advancing women’s economic empowerment with the launch of the GES Manual. There is of course more work to be done, but we as a community, we should be proud of our collective efforts towards enabling women’s workforce participation and equity in business.”
The GES Manual is provided as a public good to support companies, organizations and/or funds to use for their due diligence and gender lens investing work, and to calculate a consistent and comparable gender score.
SEAF, with support from ESCAP, has committed to support greater investor adoption of gender smart investing by supporting the harmonization of women’s economic empowerment frameworks and gender equality tools. ESCAP and SEAF recognize that the GES framework is not the only gender equality framework publicly available and are therefore working with the impact investment community to further publicize other tools/frameworks already on the market, which can also support the investment community.
In addition to SEAF’s partnership with ESCAP’s Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship programme, which is funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, SEAF’s GES work has benefited from a number of partners and stakeholders including Catalyst at Large, Women of the World Endowment and members of the 2X Challenge and Gender Finance Collaborative, which is made up of 14 Development Finance Institutions.
About ESCAP’s Catalysing Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme
This initiative is implemented under a regional programme initiative titled ‘Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship: Creating a Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ funded by the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada, and implemented by ESCAP. The programme aims to support the growth of women entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region through addressing the challenges faced at three levels: enabling policy environment, access to finance and use of ICT for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.unescap.org/projects/cwe
SEAF is a global impact investment fund manager targeting both financial returns and significant social impact by providing capital, capacity building, and a global network to support small and medium-sized business expansion. As an emerging market investor, SEAF is particularly focused on women’s economic empowerment and gender equality, equal opportunity in health and education, clean energy and smart solutions, sustainability in agribusiness, financial and technological inclusion, and displaced and migrant lens investing. Since 1989, SEAF has invested in over 400 companies in 29 countries. SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund’s investment in Organica was recently awarded the AVCJ Responsible Investment of the Year 2019. For more about SEAF, see www.seaf.com. For more information on SEAF’s activity in gender lens investing, please contact Jennifer Buckley at [email protected].