The Sky's The Limit - New research reveals gender blind spot in UK’s multi-million social investment market

The Young Foundation (1) has today published a new report calling for government and the wider UK social investment sector (2) to increase their use of “gender lens investing”.

Gender lens investing (GLI) uses capital to simultaneously generate financial return and advance gender equality (3).

The research looks at why and how GLI is being used internationally and how the UK currently compares. It shows despite being a global leader in social investment, the UK has a blind spot when it comes to gender and is losing out on investment opportunities, and in some cases having a negative impact.

It sets out a compelling body of evidence, from sources that range from the United Nations (4) to corporate giants McKinsey (5) that investments that empower women and girls and/or take on gender considerations more broadly, are delivering increased or more secure financial return.

Ceri Goddard, Director of Equality at The Young Foundation and report author said, “Using a gender lens is not just social investing, it's smart investing. “There is no such thing as gender neutral investment and the more investors take this on board the higher the dividend, financial and social. “Investing in advancing gender equality, whether it’s closing the pay gap or freeing both young girls and boys from unhealthy pressures to conform to media stereotypes would also be hugely positive for us all.”

However the research finds that while the vast majority of surveyed investors strongly agree they have a key role in advancing gender equality, very few are actually using a gender lens in practice.

  • Only one social investor from a national sample says they assess the gender equality impact of their investments.
  • Only 25% of investors consider gender in any part of their planning or decision making.
  • 18% investors collect data on the gender split of the end beneficiaries of their investments.
  • Only 50% of respondents reported they considered any equality issues as part of their decision making process

The main reasons given by social investors for not doing more are a lack of demand from “wholesale investors” such as government and the need for more guidance.

Glenys Thornton, CEO of The Young Foundation said, “Despite pioneering the field of social investment and sitting at the heart of what is now a multi-million social market the UK is hardly off the starting blocks when it comes to harnessing finance to tackle gender inequality. “Our research shows that the UK social investors want to do more but need government and other large investors to make clear they want to see this happen and practically support them to change their practice.”

Cliff Prior, Chief Executive of Big Society Capital (6) the UK’s largest social investment bank said, “We know that gender equality is central to achieving a strong economy and a healthy, happy society. “With social investment still a relatively new field we have an important window of opportunity in which to integrate a gender lens. It’s one we should seize as both the right and also the most effective thing to do.”

Sara Llewellin, Chief Executive of Barrow Cadbury Trust (7) which financed the research and uses a gender lens in its own social investing said, “The launch of this new report on social investing with a gender lens is both timely and welcome. Although social investment has been around for several years now it is still, in some senses, in its infancy, which is all the more reason to ensure that a gender lens is applied to it now. “With the voluntary sector grappling with how, if and when social investment might be an option, this report will be a very useful tool for considering how gender lensing might both increase the effectiveness of social investment but also how it can be used on several different levels to increase social impact and financial return.”

Editor’s notes.

(1) The Young Foundation harnesses the power of social innovation to address the structural causes of inequality. We believe that current levels of inequality are not inevitable and that we collectively have the power to shape the societies and communities we want to live in. Our work is based on research, partnerships and practical problem solving. We work with civil society organisations, business and the state to achieve change www.youngfoundation.org.

(2) The multi-million social investment market sees investors put money into social organisations or goals such as lowering poverty or crime, but expecting a financial return on this investment. Strongly encouraged by government, it is growing rapidly and this is set to continue as public spending, which previously financed most social provision, continues to shrink. Like corporate investors, how social investors conduct their business, what they invest money in, and with whom, determines not only their profit but also their social impact – good or bad.

(3) Gender Lens Investing is a growing global movement focused at the nexus of gender equality and investment markets. In essence it advocates that financial markets, one of the most powerful forces in the globe, can be better harnessed to empower women and girls and advance gender equality while still delivering financial return. For example, by increasing investment in women entrepreneurs, in ventures with progressive employment practice and supply chains and in ventures that deliver goods and services that benefit women and girls and address gender inequality.

(4) The UN has declared “empowering women and girls and gender equality” a global sustainable development goal in its own right.

(5) Mckinsey found that greater gender equality could add 28 Trillion of additional GDP at the macro level.

(6) In 2012 Government set up “Big Society Capital” - the world’s first social investment bank. With contributions from the big four high street banks it receives £600 million of capital to be allocated to social investments www.bigsocietycapital.com. Other large social investors, who receive government funds for the purpose of social investing, include The BIG Lottery and the ACCESS Foundation.

(7) The Barrow Cadbury Trust is an independent charitable foundation, committed to bringing about socially just change. The organisation financed the research for this report and uses a gender lens in its own social investing www.barrowcadbury.org.uk.

An abridged version of the report is attached and a full version featuring detailed information and data is available. To arrange a briefing or interview please contact Tamara Sperling, Communications Advisor at tamara.sperling@youngfoundation.org or 020 8980 6263. 

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Putting Extensive Abuse on the Agenda

Gender inequality is an inescapable reality. Women in the UK are on average poorer, more likely to be abused, more likely to experience mental health problems, less likely to be represented in politics or leadership positions in the media or in firms, more likely to have unpaid caring responsibilities, and more likely to face discrimination as parents than men. Almost every aspect of life is affected by inequalities based on gender.

Women (and men) have been fighting against gender inequality for centuries. Since the middle of the last century, and the advent of popular feminism in particular, some great strides have been made. We have won the vote, equal pay legislation, an end to legal marital rape. Grassroots organisations have created a vital network of specialist services for women who experience domestic and sexual violence, although these are increasingly under threat. Continued activism aims to ensure women are represented everywhere from banknotes to the A-level politics syllabus.

But still, women and ‘women’s issues’ are not yet mainstream. ‘Women’s issues’ are defined narrowly, with a focus on the pay gap or abuse for example, without considering how gender combines with other forms of inequality to shape women’s actual lives. 

But gender is central to the way other forms of inequality work in practice. There is a group of women in our society at the sharp end of many different kinds of inequality. These women experience gendered violence and abuse as children, and it continues into adulthood. The abuse puts them at high risk of experiencing mental health problems, and many turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. Too many end up homeless, involved in prostitution, or in prison.

When women experience disadvantage they experience it in specific ways because they are female. Being a homeless woman is qualitatively different to being a homeless man, for example. Women are more likely to enter into unwanted sexual partnerships to keep a roof over their heads, and less likely to sleep rough for fear of being attacked.  

Yet many of the services in place to provide support are often designed around men as the default service user. This doesn’t respond to the fact that women are not only homeless, they are female and homeless: a minority in support services and at risk of gendered violence on the streets. They are not just mentally ill, they are female and mentally ill and can struggle to access treatment that responds to the trauma they have experienced. What these women need are holistic services which can respond to their complex, and gendered needs. But such services are poorly funded and few and far between.

Agenda has come together to champion this group of women, to make sure they are taken into account. Our vision is of a world where women who experience extensive abuse are recognised early by mainstream services, then supported into specialist, holistic support which recognises the trauma they have experienced and has the expertise to resolve the problems that arise from it. We bring together a diverse set of members from the addiction, homelessness, criminal justice, mental health, women’s and other sectors to share best practice, and campaign on multiple fronts. What our members have in common is a recognition that we can’t reach these women if we work in silos: we have to work together.

The single issue, gender-neutral approach isn’t working for the most excluded women and girls. We need to change systems so that the default service user isn’t male, and everyone recognises that disadvantaged women are likely to have been abused. Agenda will be launching in the early New Year, taking a new approach to campaigning and cross-sector working which aims to achieve that change. We hope you will join us.

By Katharine Sacks-Jones, Director of Agenda

www.weareagenda.org

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Mapping the Innovation Terrain for Gender Equality

How to better harness social innovation ideas and methods to advance gender equality—and vice versa.

By Freya Johnson Ross

Gender inequality remains a major global issue. Women continue to be less likely to go to school than men, still earn less than men, and still are more susceptible to physical violence and abuse.

How can we better harness social innovation ideas and methods to advance gender equality—and vice versa?

This was the question we were trying to answer with “Unequal Nation,” the first piece of research from the Young Foundation’s new initiative Gender Futures. Our research sheds light on the current state of gender inequality in the UK (which recently fell from 18 to 26 in the World Economic Forum’s global gender equality rankings), how it relates to social innovation and social finance, and some promising avenues for action going forward. And although the research uses gender inequality in the UK as its starting point, we believe our findings can apply to wider global discussions in this area.

Our research examined three dimensions of gender inequality—resources, attitudes, and power—and while we found some points of positive progress (such as the increasing number of female parliamentarians), there were many points of sticky inequality.

In terms of resources, for example, we found:

  • Unequal opportunities and pay for women in relation to paid work. In the UK, the gender pay gap is currently 19 percent, and some 27 percent of women (compared to 16 percent of men) earn less than the living wage.
  • An unequal balance of responsibility for and time spent on unpaid work. Women continue to do more to care for the home, children, and other family members. This not only limits their ability to engage in paid work, but also affects their well-being; women have less leisure time and are more stressed than men.

In terms of attitudes we found:

  • Ongoing high levels of violence and abuse predominantly perpetrated by men against women. A staggering 1.4 million women in the UK experience domestic abuse each year.

In terms of power we found:

  • Despite some progress, ongoing under-representation of women in positions of authority and influence across the political, business, and social spheres. For example, 29 percent of elected members of the UK parliament and just 23.5 percent of FTSE100 board members are women.

 

Gender and Social Innovation

We also looked at the gender-related social innovation work of a variety of practitioners, intermediary support organizations, and funders. Reviewing projects that meld social innovation with a gender equality perspective, we found some exciting examples: Women Like Us promotes high-quality, part-time work and offers career advice; Oguntê supports female entrepreneurs; and Fearless Futures empowers young female leaders in school. These projects draw on a nuanced, feminist understanding of how gender inequality works—recognizing that attitudes, power, and resources link together to create and sustain inequality. Each of them channels this into practical vehicles (such as workshops, materials, or mentoring plans) that have the capacity to reach broad audiences and address the roots of inequality.

Despite these green shoots, there are clear gaps to fill. For example, much work to date has focused on increasing support for women entrepreneurs and innovators. This in itself helps boost equality, but it won’t necessarily deliver innovation that addresses gender inequality; all innovations developed by women don’t address gender inequality, and it is now widely recognized that accelerating gender equality will require innovation that addresses and engages both women and men.

We also carried out interviews with UK social finance providers to assess how much they understood and considered gender in their funding decisions. Although participants showed interest in discussing the topic, many didn’t feel confident about addressing gender equality; they neither considered gender equality in decision-making nor measured it in their reporting. In the context of some of the pioneering gender-lens investing work at the Criterion Institute (and discussed in articles on gender lens investing and gender capitalism), this sadly seems to echo a fundamental problem: As the Association for Women’s Rights in Development and others have documented, there is a lack of support for many grassroots organizations that are already innovating in funding for gender equality and women’s rights work.

What Needs to Happen

Based on our findings, we see two interconnected paths forward: gender innovation and gendering innovation.

Gender innovation means innovations specifically targeted at addressing the roots of gender inequality. Where is this already happening? How can we develop and support more of these? Gendering innovation means attending to the gendered nature of existing social innovation practice, support, and funding. How does this currently help or hinder gender equality? How could we improve?

Both nationally and internationally, we need more:

  • Ways of talking about gender innovation that engage both gender equality workers and projects, and the broader community of social innovation practitioners, intermediaries, and funders. Language differences can mask common goals and approaches to gender equality and social innovation. Some gender equality organizations we met with during our research, for instance, were unfamiliar with the terms “social innovation” and “social finance,” and some social innovation intermediaries did not understand how “gender” was relevant to their work. Accessible texts, guides, videos, and workshops can bridge the communication gap. The Criterion Institute, for example, has been developing a toolkit to specifically work through this in the context of social finance.
  • Spaces and support to enable the different actors—funders, intermediaries, social innovation and gender equality organizations—to reach out and connect with the unusual suspects (including organizations that may not consider their work as social innovation), and to challenge old ones. Whether physical or virtual, we need to create and promote opportunities for these groups to come together for both sides to benefit. For example, funders and intermediaries with the resources to host smaller organizations could develop workshops, forums, or “un-conferences” to help harness the creativity of unusual juxtapositions.
  • The social innovation community needs to more consistently recognize the innovation that takes place within the gender equality sector. In a bid to broaden understanding of social innovation, for example, Nesta recently highlighted 18 innovations that have shaped the world. Although this included gendered programs such as childcare and Girlguiding, it did not reference gender inequality or feminist innovation. Explicitly recognizing innovation within the gender equality sector will enrich the gender innovation already taking place. And as Scenarios USA Co-founder Kirsten Joiner noted in a recent article, it will also encourage the valuable calculated risk-taking that the private sector usually encourages.

Gender equality and social innovation actors are both known for their reflexivity–to critique and refine their own working. Both sides stand to gain from acknowledging each other, communicating, and collaborating.

Bringing together the techniques of social innovation and new insights on gender offers a potent way to address long-standing inequality. There is learning and development on offer for all parties in doing so. Social innovation that doesn’t understand how gender shapes all areas of life won’t achieve it’s full potential. Similarly, gender equality actors can learn from the exciting conjunctions, processes, and tools of social innovation to accelerate their vision for equality. The work of drawing the two together has already begun and is picking up speed; now is the time to make sure this work is linked together to make gender innovation mainstream.

Freya Johnson Ross (@freyajross) is a London-based researcher specializing in gender equality and social change. Over the past year she has been working at The Young Foundation to establish and grow Gender Futures

See more at: http://ssir.org/articles/entry/mapping_the_innovation_terrain_for_gender_equality#sthash.0DWhjemJ.dpuf

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We need help!

Thanks to the Barrow Cadbury Trust, we have started a new piece of research that we think will be key for both social investors and for organisations working on Gender Equality.

We are currently looking at gender lens investing – i.e. using gender as a category during the investment process in order to obtain social and/or financial returns.

Our previous research, as detailed in our Unequal Nation report, shows that there seems to be a lack of understanding of gender, and of how to apply a gender lens to investment decisions, in the social finance sector. In turn, we know that the gender equality initiatives are struggling to get finance, and that organisations working in the sector do not always know how to access the social financing and investments. 

Through this project we want to support knowledge and capacity building so that social financiers are able to utilise a gender lens to make more effective and sustainable social investments.

We also want to know what the current funding situation is for organisations working on gender equality. What kinds of funding do they normally access, and do they know about social finance and how to approach social financiers? What tools would they need to enable them to access funders that do not normally focus on gender equality returns?

In order to map the current reality of both the social investment sector and gender equality organisations we need to know what they are doing, how, and what tools do they think they need.

As part of our research we are conducting two surveys.

One is tailored to organisations working on gender equality. We want to map how much social investment/ newer forms of social finance are reaching women’s organisations as well as what support exists to help them reach non-traditional (for the women’s sector) sources of finance. We need the participation of women and girls’ and gender equality organisations, from small grass groups to national organisations.

The other survey is tailored to organisations working on social finance, regardless of whether they work on gender or not. We want to learn what do social investors understand gender to be, and how do they, if at all, apply this knowledge to their decisions on what to finance and how. We want to understand what is happening, how, and what tools are necessary in order to ensure investors are able to apply a gender lens to the work they do.

The more information we have, the better able we will be to deliver research that fits our current reality in the UK, and develop tools that are of practical use to investors and gender equality organisations.

Each survey has 15 -20 questions and will no longer than 20 minutes to complete. All results will be anonymised. By participating in it, and encouraging others to do so, you will be helping develop knowledge, and more importantly, tools, to ensure social investments are able to address gender as part of their social impact. Please help us!

For any questions or comments please contact me at muriel.kahane@youngfoundation.org

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How to change the world, one period at a time.

Guest post by Frances Lucraft

Feminine hygiene is a topic which gets little attention yet is a huge global problem. Poor access to sanitary products, cultural taboos and lack of education about menstruation prevents millions of girls from continuing their education, hampers women’s working life, and renders many vulnerable to health issues. Simultaneously, the disposable products used in developed countries contribute to landfill and pollution at alarming rates. 

If, like most sane people, you consider tampons and sanitary towels to be “essentials” rather than “luxury products”, then you’d be wrong in the eyes of current legislation in many parts of the world. In response to campaigns to end the so-called “tampon tax”, the UK’s ‘tax collectors’ the great HMRC, has stated that the current five per cent VAT rate is the lowest possible under EU guidelines. HMRC categorises tampons and sanitary towels as “non-essential, luxury” items. On the other hand, as the wonderful Laura Coryton (who I was privileged to jointly organise a protest march in Bristol in May this year on this exact topic) points out in her petition calling for an end to the tax on menstrual products. In 2001 the government did agree to put them on a reduced rate, but, hey crocodile meat, edible sugar flowers...and those all essential desert jellies, of which are all 'apparently' considered 'essential' enough items by Mr George Osborne, Chancellor of our Exchequer, to exist tax free. The vitality of sanitary products however, has been routinely ignored by our male dominated cabinet!

 

For most women a period is deemed as being a pain, an inconvenience, but for the poorest members of society it is a very real problem. Women who are homeless, for example, cannot afford to be spending money on sanitary products. So they are forced to go without, which can lead to poor hygiene, and to ill health. You may be surprised that shelters for the homeless get a government grant to buy condoms for people, but there is absolutely NO help when it comes to sanitary products for women.  This is not only utterly ridiculous, but utterly shameful, especially in low income countries where the lack of access to menstrual hygiene is a total affront to human rights.

It’s important to recognise that menstruation affects women and girls’ health, dignity and confidence, as well as their participation in education, their community and the economy. But just because women and girls cope perfectly well, or at least appear to, it doesn’t mean menstrual hygiene management is an issue that can be overlooked by those working in the development sector. 

While TV ads for period protection in the UK may leave the impression that sanitary protection is invisible - NEVER have I felt the urge to jump a hedge in glee or spin joyously around and around in a field of daisies donned head-to-toe in white; and just like the obliqueness of that all so familiar ‘blue liquid’ in those TV ads, these ‘stereotypes’ as well as menstrual taboos are so rarely discussed.

Then comes the shocking cultural statistics.  WaterAid cites that 95% of girls in rural Ghana said they felt embarrassed during their last period and 90% said they felt ashamed. Of girls in Malawi, 82% did not know about menstruation before the onset of menarche (their first period). Girls are also excluded from water sources during menstruation and prohibited from cooking or bathing in some communities.

After working in the water & sanitation sector for many years, and learning about menstrual hygiene management equality, I decided to turn my frustration and anger into something positive. Eco Hygiene Care addresses three issues – access to feminine hygiene in developing countries and disaster zones; addressing the devastating environmental impact of disposable sanitary products; and educating women about their health by providing safe, chemical-free options.

We address these problems by creating reusable and biodegradable hygiene products that use 100% organic cotton. We also invest 10% of pre-tax profits into improving education about, and access to, feminine hygiene in developing countries. The profits from the sales will go towards improving menstrual hygiene in developing countries, as well as supporting and providing products in disaster zones. 

A large part of our ethos rests on improving access to environmentally-friendly sanitary products across the world. We believe all women and girls must have choice – on a par with what men and boys have. Girls across the developing world should be given as many choices about their education and future as women and girls in the UK benefit from. Anything else is simply a gender-based injustice that goes against their (and our) human rights.

We are now close to launching, and are focusing on discovering the latest research related to the issues that move us, exposing the truth and reality of menstruation around the world, spreading awareness and educating all who express an interest. We are an ethical brand that cares deeply about every action we take, from the manufacturing process to the people we work with. We want to restore consumer faith that it is possible to have safe, reliable feminine hygiene products that are healthy for you and gentle on the planet.

Frances Lucraft is founder of Eco Hygiene Care. She would love to hear from you, if you have any comments/feedback please email her: frances@graceandgreen.co 

Grace and Green (Eco Hygiene Care’s commercial arm) is due to launch in January, 2016 They are now taking pre-orders for products in their online store. Members of the young Foundation will receive 20% off their first order by entering the discount code: chemical free period

 

Twitter: @Grace_And_Green 

 

Did you know?

  • A woman will use 11,000 disposable sanitary products in her lifetime (MoonCup)
  • In some areas of Nepal women must not enter the home; or touch water supplies, animals or men while they have their period (WaterAid)
  • One sanitary towel contains the equivalent amount of plastic as four plastic bags (Naturally Savvy)
  • 1 in 3 schoolgirls in South Asia were not aware of menstruation before [starting their period]. (Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2014)
  • 83% of girls in Burkina Faso and 77% in Niger have no place at school to change their sanitary menstrual materials (Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2014)

 

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Gender Equality, Innovation and Paddington Bear - highlights from the launch of the Gender Futures "Unequal Nation" report

Why should social innovators and investors step up efforts to advance gender equality? What kind of gender equality innovation could make a difference that can be felt in people’s everyday lives? How can we make this happen?

These and many other questions were posed, debated and answered by the panel and standing room only audience at launch of a new report from the Young Foundation “UNEQUAL NATION – the case for social innovation to work for a gender equal future.”

This is the first report from Gender Futures, an initiative which aims to harness the power of social innovation to tackle today’s gender inequalities and accelerate a gender equal future. The report sets out evidence of the scale and nature of gender inequality in the UK today and considers the potential of social innovation to address it. It concludes with initial recommendations on how the full potential of social innovation to advance gender equality could be unleashed.

The launch saw panelists and guests from both the gender equality and social innovation and investment sectors respond to the report’s findings and recommendations.  Opening proceedings was Baroness Glenys Thornton, CEO of the Young Foundation, who highlighted the importance of answering the key question of “why haven’t we been harnessing social innovation to tackle systemic gender inequality?”

 Natalie Campbell, a trustee of Unltd, welcomed the report, in particular its consideration of how gender inequality further impacts social and economic inequalities, including racial disadvantage. She echoed the report’s emphasis on the need for a range of mainstream actors, including policy makers, investors, business and social organisations to step up to the challenge. She emphasized the need for the seeds of a new gender innovation movement to be better brought together and work to “better understand the impact this could achieve in the long term”.

Sara Llewellin, CEO of the Barrow Cadbury Trust whom had co-funded the report, talked about BCT’s emphasis on and the importance of “strengthening the hand of changemakers”. She also highlighted the need to tackle the root causes of inequalities rather than “working year after year” on its results. She contextualized her comments on the report’s recommendations for greater social investment into gender equality work by noting she was both “an advocate and a sceptic of social investment”. She emphasized the importance of social investment when “grant finance is a precious pool which should only be used to develop an income stream where money can’t be paid back”. She caveated this by recognising that whilst repayable social finance is good for many things it is no good for others. She concluded with three key points. First was the need for social financers to develop products that reflect the needs of third sector organisations, not vice versa. Second, that in the current and austere fiscal context, where women will continue to bear the brunt, this work will be extremely important. Finally, whilst welcoming the report she highlighted that our “unequal nation” is part of “an unequal world” highlighting the importance of ensuring we draw on and link to existing gender innovation learning and models from around the world.

Jon Huggett, chair of SIX and board director of ALL OUT, praised the report’s use of a gender lens to look at wider inequalities, and in particular the role gender norms play in the continuing discrimination and disadvantage experienced by LGBT people. He reflected that ultimately social innovation is all about power, and called for it to be placed  in the hands of those for whom it will make the greatest difference, and who are also most likely develop solutions. It was Jon who introduced Paddington Bear into the conversation drawing a parallel between his words on London where he hoped “everyone is different – so anyone can fit in” and an equality innovation not based “on one size fits all”.  He ended with a call for more social innovation to tackle the creation of the new powerful social class that Michael Young had predicted and which leaves no room for others.

Anne Kazimirski from NPC shared the report’s concern at the lack of systemic engagement with the expertise and insights of the women’s and gender equality sector. This is particularly important for the social innovation sector, she added, who must mainstream work on gender and “enable not block gender innovation”. Her call was echoed by Sarah Green, Director of EVAW, who highlighted the importance of recognising where gender equality organisations are already innovating, despite a growing struggle to find resources for influencing systems change when services are needed on the frontline. She thought the report was timely in bringing together an index on different but interconnected gender challenges, and “adventurous” in the potential it set out. She did however raise a key question which dominated the concluding debate amongst the wider audience: “Why, when we [the gender equality movement] have for years produced evidence of need and what works in practice, why is this not being listened to and acted on by those in positions to make a difference?”

Although the event did not seek to reach an agreed and shared conclusion, one nevertheless emerged. A central priority for the growing gender equality innovation movement must be finding new ways not only to evidence the need for change but to influence greater action on this. Ultimately it is those in power, politicians and businesses, who need to respond to demands of citizens and customers. This is a major and vital challenge that will require combining ideas, insights and resources from a wide range of people and organisations. Gender Futures has been created to bring these together – join us.

 

Ceri Goddard

 

 

 

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Unequal Nation: The case for social innovation to work for a gender equal future

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Unequal Nation: The case for social innovation to work for a gender equal future

What has gender equality got to do with social innovation? This was the question we started with when we began to research our first Gender Futures report at The Young Foundation. Published today, Unequal Nation aims to fuel an important conversation between the activists interested in social innovation, and those that work on gender equality.

Gender Inequality in the UK

We found that although gender equality is something we’ve supposedly achieved in the UK, there actually remain lots of deep and enduring inequalities between women and men. In Unequal Nation we looked at research on the resources available to men and women, the attitudes and opinions held by people, and the holders of power and influence.

We found inequalities across these - for example the pay gap is 19% in favour of men. 65% of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people have experienced bullying. 80% of university professors are male. These are only some of the areas where we know inequality continues to be a reality. Looking across these different areas also enabled us to see how they are interconnected demonstrating that we need an interconnected response to make positive change.

Gender and Social Innovation

Although gender equality activists have been incredibly innovative, and those involved in social innovation care about making positive social change - the two haven't interacted as much as they could. Gender Futures aims to change this. There are some exciting examples such as Timewise, Ogunte, and Band of Brothers but there is a lack of support to really build and accelerate gender innovation. Gender Futures aims to do just this.

What next for gender innovation?

Today we’re launching our first report, and we’ve already begun developing our programme and research going forward. If you’re interested in being part of creating a gender equal future we hope you’ll join us:

 

       Share the report or the summary

       Follow us on twitter for updates

       Get in touch with us 

 

By Freya Johnson Ross

 

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