Gender equality is not only a social and moral imperative, but also an economic necessity. Across the world, countries are losing $172 trillion in wealth because of differences in lifetime earnings between women and men, according to a recent World Bank Group study.

Companies, however, are increasingly realizing that they can gain greater competitive advantage and improve profits by targeting women as employees, entrepreneurs, consumers, and business leaders. Closing gaps between women’s and men’s economic participation drives the growth of businesses and economies and improves the lives of families and communities.

The new World Bank Group Gender Strategy (FY 2016 - 2023) outlines the support that the entire WBG, including IFC, will provide to client countries and companies toward gender inclusion. That support is critical to achieving greater gender equality, which is key to reduce poverty and increase prosperity.

IFC has long taken a comprehensive approach to reduce gender inequality—we create partnerships to encourage hiring of women and improving their working conditions, we help expand access to financial services for women, we invest in innovative technologies that expand choices of female consumers, and we work with partners to provide business skills and leadership training to women entrepreneurs.

We provide investment and advice, conduct research to highlight the business rationale of closing gender gaps, and develop global and country-specific partnerships. Specifically, our operations are focused along improving women’s access to opportunities in entrepreneurship, employment, insurance, corporate leadership, and digital economy. Please visit the priorities section for additional details of each of the focus areas.

Development Reach

The impact of IFC clients in 2020:

  • 668Thousand WOMEN COLLECTIVELY EMPLOYED
  • 45PercentOF IFC’S NOMINATIONS FOR BOARD POSITIONS WERE WOMEN
  • 658Thousand SME LOANS MADE TO WOMEN-OWNED ENTERPRISES
  • $15.6 BILLIONIN SME LOANS TO WOMEN-OWNED ENTERPRISES