Women Deliver 2019 was all about Power, Progress and Change. There were over 8,000 people at the event and 100,000 tuned over satellite.

In partnership with Acumen, we hosted the largest investment-focused side event on the Power of Finance to bring focus to using finance as a tool for equitable social change. This was held in the midst of sessions from Pro Mujer, the OECD and SIDA, the IFC, and a main stage session on the Power of Money (watch the video here).

Our carefully curated event was attended by 180 people representing changemakers and leaders from around the world across the spectrum of critical players in the capital system.

We also brought together wonderful people and organisations to moderate Solution Circles on topics as varied as systems change and the role of the public sector, finance and gender based violence, gender and energy and gender and climate change, and investing in adolescent girls. See the full list in the programme (updated post-event to reflect changes on the day). We also heard about some great resources on the day and have listed these on our resources page.


We reviewed the State of the Field, inviting Joy Anderson from Criterion Institute to share her perspective and passion. Some key themes were momentum, challenge, growth (but not fast enough), risk and the mythologies of risk, who sees themselves as having a seat in this room, and the importance of speaking each others’ languages. We talked about the exciting and increasing differentiation in investment vehicles, but also the challenge of being too focused. We talked about the climate movement and how well funded it has been, compared to gender lens investing, what we can learn and what we might do differently. We talked about power, and the road ahead, and we talked about being enough, right now.


We were fortunate to have Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women, share her unique perspective of the importance of finance in the context of the work for gender equality, confirming that “profit and purpose are not in conflict”.


Once again (as a follow on to our November Summit) we brought together a set of action oriented changemakers to the stage to share their public commitments and collaboration updates through our Action Through Accountability part of the programme. Nine announcements were made, including:

  • UN Women and FinDev Canada signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in advancing women's economic empowerment and gender lens investing in Latin American, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa. FinDev Canada also signed the WEPs (Women's Empowerment Principles).
  • Criterion Institute is more than halfway to its goal of aggregating $1T in intent from asset owners to invest in strategies that address gender-based violence. UNICEF announced its backing of Criterion’s campaign to leverage the power of finance to reduce gender-based violence and its support in engaging 1,000 gender-based violence experts in the design of new solutions.
  • RHIA Ventures (previously called Reproductive Health Investors Alliance) is committed to move, and catalyse with others, significant venture and debt capital to innovations that address reproductive health in the US for marginalised communities.
  • Tara Health Foundation is also committed to continue its work to catalyse corporate accountability and transparency with a variety of actors, in the areas that matter most to women's lives in the corporate arena.
  • Acumen and AlphaMundi believe the work only starts when we make the investment. Together, they're launching the Gender-Smart Enterprise Assistance Research Coalition, G-Search: Finding Ways to Embed Gender Equity into the DNA of Social Enterprises in Emerging Markets.
  • Capria VC are committing to institutionalize training and support on gender smart investing principles across all Capria Network fund managers. More than 30% of Capria's current network of funds have women in leadership roles (6 out of 19).
  • SheEO, led by Vicki Saunders, commit to raising a $1B Perpetual Fund in the next 10 years and unlocking 100x beyond that for follow-on funding for SheEO Ventures. SheEO operates in 5 countries and plans to be on every continent within 5 years.
  • FinDev Canada, CDC Group, OPIC, Proparco, and MasterCard Foundation have partnered to launch the 2X Challenge Invest2Impact Business Competition to support women entrepreneurs in East Africa wih the potential to positively impact their local economies. The 2X Challenge added four new DFIs to the original group of seven - FMO, IFU, Finnfund, and Swedfund are all involved.
  • OPIC and Merck have formed the Financing for MOMs (Maternal Outcomes Matters) Alliance and signed a memorandum of understanding with the goal of mobilizing up to $50M to improve infrastructure, services, and access to care for pregnant women and mothers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The Equality Fund's commitment is to deploy investment capital in a way that yields profits but scales systems transformation for women. $300M from the Canadian Government plus $100M from other key investors and funders is committed thus far, with the goal of raising at least $1B.


We were treated to a soulful, spectacular fireside talk from Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO, Acumen, who shared stories of changemakers in the Acumen ecosystem. She said we need to “focus on building a system based on community, collaboration” and that “gender lens investing is about finding a way to integrate the best parts of ourselves, both men and women, create a human voice”.

“Our system of money, fame, power has been zero sum; I win, you lose. We need to build a system based on community, collaboration, connection.” - @jnovogratz #WD2019 #GenderSmart


Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard, Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN, and Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF shared the stage to talk about Innovative Finance for Development. What are the risks - real and perceived - in investing with a gender lens. What might they envision - five years hence, if this goes well.

On perceived risk associated with investing in women and girls: Amb. Blanchard said: “We need to make sure the conversation is about the risk of NOT doing it.”

Fore said: "We need to commit to encouraging young female entrepreneurs."

Also, UNICEF is aiming to get every school in the world connected to the internet as there is a digital divide and many young girls are being left behind.


As always with our events, people mostly wanted to talk with and help each other. We asked “What are you up to” and “What do you need” and people responded generously. We structured circles on a host of topics, based on conversations with people in the months leading up to the event - the full list can be found in the programme.

In many conversations, including those about supporting women entrepreneurs, shareholder engagement and corporate transparency, investing in adolescent girls, addressing gender based violence, and systems change and the public sector, we could not pull people away from each other.

We know that our stellar moderators catalysed great solution oriented conversations and hope that people will share back their reflections, notes, and takeaways by emailing Sandra Phillips.

During the closing section, Angela Rodriguez, FinDev Canada, introduced FinDev Canada’s new UNEQUALOPOLIS “game” on gender inequality and gave people a taster experience. Bravo to FinDev Canada - the game is open source and downloadable from the FinDev Canada website.

We thank everyone for joining us, for co-creating this, and for all that you are doing to create a more just and equal world. We thank Women Deliver for creating an extraordinary venue and gathering, and for welcoming us in to be a part of making history together.