Strategic Entry Points for Advancing Gender Equality in the Private Sector

The gender tip sheets identify relevant points of entry to support gender equality based on the different roles women play—as consumers, business leaders, employees, or suppliers. Photo credit: ADB.

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Gender tip sheets make the business case for mainstreaming gender goals into finance, renewable energy, agribusiness, and other private sector projects.

Overview

Promoting a business culture that invests in women makes good economic sense. Studies show that increased participation of women in the labor force and in decision-making not only improves their wellbeing but also raises overall productivity, profits, and the capacity to develop new and innovative products and services.

Despite significant advances in accelerating gender equality across Asia and the Pacific, gaps still persist in the workplace (hiring, compensation, entrepreneurship, and leadership) and in various areas (education, health outcomes, etc.). These mean lost opportunities for growth. A McKinsey Global Institute report estimates that achieving gender balance in the region could add $4.5 trillion to the regional annual gross domestic product in 2025.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) mainstreams gender equality and women’s empowerment across the full range of its operations, including into its private sector projects. ADB’s private sector operations focuses on projects that help promote private investments in the region that will have significant development impact and will lead to accelerated, sustainable, and inclusive growth.

ADB recently developed gender tip sheets to promote a better understanding of how gender mainstreaming applies to businesses and how it enhances capacities to develop products that respond to the female market, i.e., female service providers, female distributors, women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (WMSMEs), and female customers. These serve as reference guides for developing gender measures and corporate initiatives and adapting practices to gender-inclusive business models.

The four gender tip sheets identify points of entry to accelerate gender equality in private sector projects in three sectors: finance, renewable energy, and agribusiness. These also present the business case for advancing gender equality in these sectors.

Private Sector Projects

Applying the Asian Development Bank’s Approach to Gender Mainstreaming in Private Sector Operations explains how project teams work with the investee company in identifying relevant points of entry to support gender equality based on the different roles women play—as consumers, business leaders, employees, or suppliers. It provides an overview of four common points of entry as well as some examples:

  • Adapt products or services to meet women’s needs.
  • Increase gender equality in governance, leadership, and the workforce.
  • Enhance gender equality in the workplace.
  • Improve gender inclusion in procurement.

Read more.

Finance Sector

In Asia and the Pacific, women are less likely to have a bank account than men, and the gap can be as high as 30% in some countries. They represent a large, underserved market.

Accelerating Gender Equality in the Finance Sector identifies five points of entry for private sector companies in the finance sector to increase women’s access to financial services:

  • Tailor financial products and services to meet women’s needs.
  • Adapt how and where services are provided.
  • Increase women-friendly alternatives to secure financing.
  • Improve risk perceptions of women as consumers of financial services.
  • Promote gender-inclusive financial technologies.

Women make up nearly half of the workforce in the finance sector in the region. This gender tip sheet also provides three points of entry to enhance gender equality in the workplace of a finance sector company:

  • Increase gender equality in governance, leadership, and the workforce.
  • Enhance gender equality in the workplace.
  • Improve gender inclusion in procurement.

Read more.

Renewable Energy Sector

Global commitments to a clean energy transition open more opportunities for increasing women’s access to renewable sources of energy and their engagement in the renewables sector.

Accelerating Gender Equality in the Renewable Energy Sector provides the following gender entry points for grid-connected systems:

  • Increase affordability.
  • Prioritize upgrades that benefit women.
  • Adapt services to meet women’s needs.
  • Increase economic opportunities for women.

Off-grid systems, such as home- or community-based rooftop solar systems, can increase the number of women and women-owned businesses with access to renewable sources in rural and vulnerable communities. Possible gender points of entry also include developing marketing messages and communication channels targeting women and creating a low-cost scheme for vulnerable women.

The energy transition is expected to increase the number of jobs in the renewable energy sector, where women comprise 32% of the global workforce. Entry points for boosting women’s engagement in this sector also include increasing gender equality in governance and leadership, in the workforce, and in the workplace.

This gender tip sheet lists specific points of entry to achieve these results.

Read more.

Agribusiness Sector

Women play a large and growing role in agriculture in the region as producers, suppliers, service providers, distributors, and consumers. Yet, many still lack access to land, agricultural inputs, technology, education, and financial services. Bridging the gender gap in this sector will increase productivity, quality of production, and incomes as well as improve food security.

Accelerating Gender Equality in the Agribusiness Sector identifies five key gender entry points for enhancing gender equality along agriculture value chains and in the workplace:

  • Increase women’s access to inputs and financing.
  • Increase women’s access to knowledge, networks, and technical assistance.
  • Expand the role women play in the supply chain.
  • Increase gender equality in governance, leadership and the workforce.
  • Enhance gender equality in the workplace.

Agribusinesses can consider multiple points of entry across the value chain.

Read more.

Amanda A. Satterly
Principal Social Development Specialist (Gender and Development), Gender Equality Division, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Department, Asian Development Bank

Amanda leads the efforts of ADB’s private sector operations to integrate gender into its investment projects and operation. Before joining ADB in 2019, she had more than 15 years’ experience working with the private sector to empower women and drive inclusive growth in developing markets. She has a Master of Science in Poverty Reduction from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) from the University of Queensland.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

The Asian Development Bank is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region. Its main instruments for helping its developing member countries are policy dialogue, loans, equity investments, guarantees, grants, and technical assistance.

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