International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day in the International Women’s Year in 1975. The UN General Assembly then invited member states to proclaim IWD as the UN Day for women’s rights in 1977. And among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, SDG 5 sets the ambition to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Sustainable Finance Geneva (SFG) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable finance, comprising individual members and institutional partners. Together, they represent a one-of-a-kind ecosystem that embodies the diversity of Geneva and its determination to make sustainable finance the “new normal”. Founded in 2008 by 15 passionate visionaries, SFG is the most influential organization of its kind in French-speaking Switzerland today, driving the debate on the future of finance.
SFG is launching a Gender Lens Initiative Switzerland (GLIS) working group with the mission to enhance the Swiss contribution to SDG5 through public-private partnerships, research, products development and promotion, organizational model assessments, awareness-building events & media coverage to assess the voice of women within financial institutions. The GLIS will have an academic research committee (ARCO) of advisors from various universities, to help design and implement research related to gender lens investing, the gender balance of financial institutions, and women as capital owners and investors in Switzerland. The ARCO members stand as follows: Rajna Gibson Brandon from the Geneva Finance Research Institute (GFRI) of the University of Geneva, Vanina Farber from the IMD in Lausanne, Taeun Kwon from the University of Zurich, and Jessica Espinoza from the University of Siegen in Germany. The GLIS will also have an investment solutions committee (ISCO) of advisors, to verify the gender impact of any product before it is featured in GLIS activities. The ISCO would seek to collaboratewith partners like the Aurora Project to define the legal terms of Gender Lens Investing, with GenderSmart’s Capital Connect program, or with the 2X Collaborative to showcase relevant investment products.
More generally, AlphaMundi will continue to aggregate data and insights from gender lens interventions that link gender integration to financial returns, lower risk, and sustainable growth. Our aim is to share lessons learned and best practices with the broader impact investing community to increase the number of women CEOs in our portfolio and the percentage of women in senior management positions. For the next edition of the Building Bridges Summit, for example, AlphaMundi and the GLIS would like to make the subject of Gender Lens a cross cutting issue for the summit, gathering international experts and involving all key Swiss stakeholders.
The GLIS will seek to identify relevant organizations in Switzerland and abroad with whom to collaborate, such as the Swiss Development Agency (SDC), ITC SheTrades, Women In Sustainable Finance, Swiss Sustainable Finance, the Swiss Impact Investing Association, as well as banks and asset managers, among other stakeholders. The GLIS will further aim to strengthen and integrate the conversation about gender lens during the second edition of Building Bridges Week, an annual event dedicated to advancing sustainable finance and set to be held in Geneva at year’s end.