In addition to combating climate change, the economic empowerment of women in developing countries is anchored in the OeEB strategy as an important cross-sectional goal. This goal has become even more important due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The targeted strengthening of women as entrepreneurs, managers, employees, and consumers not only leads to greater gender equality, but also to general economic growth. Nevertheless, women's participation in economic life is still severely restricted: it is estimated that it will take another 267 years for the income gap to close completely. The Covid-19 pandemic and its economic impact are hitting women particularly hard. That is why it seems all the more important to invest "gender smart".

Gender Lens Investing

Last year, OeEB, together with the German Investment and Development Corporation (DEG), commissioned a study to evaluate the impact of gender lens investing. A Gender Lens Investing Literature Review showed that the specialist literature often reports on what IS done in individual cases, but not on how women's economic empowerment can be achieved in principle. More research is therefore needed in this direction.

The study results show that more women will be represented in managerial positions due to gender equality. Furthermore, empowerment measures remove gender-specific barriers to career advancement for women and also help to transform the root causes of gender inequalities in a sustainable manner.

Kandeo, TBC and UMKA: Women in Management

These measures were shown using the example of OeEB and/or DEG business partners Kandeo, TBC and UMKA. DEG customer Kandeo Fund supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Kandeo has set itself the goal of promoting women, and with success: women make up 41 percent of management. In addition, women make up 48 percent of the workforce and 73 percent of customers.

The Georgian TBC Bank, a business partner of OeEB and DEG, attaches great importance to the promotion of its female employees, as they make up 71 percent of the workforce. Workers interviewed in the case study indicated that TBC made special efforts to maintain a respectful and supportive work environment. In addition, women are increasingly represented in male-dominated areas of work, such as risk management, which the female employees emphasized as very positive. TBC also introduced clear policies to promote equality.

OeEB customer UMKA - a Serbian carton producer - is also a positive example of Gender Lens Investing. Although only around 12 percent of employees are women, women make up 34 percent of management. UMKA also developed a strategy to reduce gender inequality. The case study found that women in management positions make a significant contribution to motivating the female workforce and act as role models.

Best practices to address social, political and economic barriers to women's economic empowerment include active investment in gender diversity, leadership involvement to promote gender equality, a supportive work culture and role models for inclusive leadership. In addition, the case studies on Kandeo, TBC and UMKA show that investors have a major impact in driving gender equality in the private sector and counteracting the systems and structures that perpetuate inequality.