Gender Equality & Economic Inclusion

Gender equality and economic inclusion are essential for economic growth and development. No country, community, or economy can achieve its potential or meet the challenges of the 21st century without the full and equal participation of women and men, girls and boys.

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IFC works to reduce gaps between men and women in the private sector, enabling companies and economies to improve their performance. 


Too often, women's private-sector participation is under-valued. Integrating women better into business operations can increase companies’ profitability and contribute significantly to shared prosperity. However, women have less access to equal employment opportunities and capital to grow their businesses, experience high levels of sexual violence, are often barred from owning or inheriting land or other property, and have less income to invest for the future.

The impact of IFC clients in 2021:

  • 741 thousand Women employed by IFC direct investment clients
  • 13% of the board members in IFC direct investment clients were women
  • 727 thousand SME loans made to women-owned enterprises
  • 19.5 billion in SME loans to women-owned enterprises

The World Bank Group Gender Strategy (FY16 -23) 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. Building on implementation of the WBG Gender Strategy 2016-23, the new WBG Gender strategy 2024 - 30, due to launch in 2024, proposes to engage with greater ambition – approaching gender equality for all as essential for global development.

10-year Retrospective on Gender and Development and Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response in World Bank Operations serve as important foundations to inform the WBG Gender Strategy 2024-2030. 

Focus Areas

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 on 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.

Corporate Leadership

IFC is building capacity, raising awareness, and expanding the discussion about gender diversity on boards and in business leadership in emerging markets and developing countries—all part of our overall environmental, social, and corporate governance standards.

Disruptive Technologies

IFC works with investees, partners, and stakeholders around the world to close knowledge gaps in inclusive technologies and to build best practices for the global tech sector.

Economic Inclusion

IFC’s Economic Inclusion Program focuses on advancing the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people. 


Companies that invest in women’s employment gain an important competitive advantage because they reach a wider talent pool, realize enhanced productivity, and improve staff retention. 


IFC help promote women-owned and led small and medium entreprises (WSMEs) by providing the tools and resources they need to enhance their confidence, capacity, capital, community, and access to contracts.


The insurance industry can play a major role in addressing this gap and earn up to $1.7 trillion by 2030 from women alone — half of it in emerging economies if they target women.

Inclusive Business

Inclusive businesses employ market-based solutions to expand affordable and quality access to goods, services, and livelihoods for base of the pyramid entrepreneurs, consumers, and workers.

Insights & Reports