BlackRock, Inc. and UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to cooperate in promoting the growth of gender lens investing. As part of the agreement, signed at the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, BlackRock will develop strategies to mobilize capital in support of economic opportunity for women. UN Women will serve as a knowledge partner and collaborate on data and research.
Gender lens investing is defined by UN Women as the intentional allocation of capital and alignment of investment strategies, processes and products, to achieve positive and tangible contributions against women’s empowerment objectives and that has the potential to generate a financial return.
By bringing together BlackRock’s deep investment experience across public and private markets and UN Women’s convening power and gender equality expertise, the partnership aims to catalyze the growth of gender lens investing and inspire greater mobilization of capital into companies that address women’s needs in education, financial services, childcare, healthcare, and other sectors. BlackRock and UN Women are united by the conviction that investing to help enhance the lives of women and girls around the world can increase their economic participation, realizing value and unlocking greater economic growth. 
BlackRock, as an asset manager on behalf of clients, will aim to invest across a broad array of asset classes, regions, and investment styles. At their core is a “dual bottom line” investment thesis that aims to drive or support positive real-world outcomes while delivering attractive, risk-adjusted returns for investors. An initial set of funds will launch gradually over the coming quarters and will be available to a global investor base, across institutional and wealth channels.
Looking ahead, BlackRock and UN Women will engage the broader ecosystem of public and private sector organizations focused on gender equality, seek to strengthen data collaboration and research, and continue to explore additional opportunities to collaborate on and promote return-generating and market-based solutions that improve the lives of women and girls.
Isabelle Mateos y Lago, Global Head of the Official Institutions Group at BlackRock, commented: “We are excited to partner with UN Women, a global champion for women’s empowerment, to help scale the nascent field of gender-lens investing. We believe this partnership will help meet the growing appetite of asset owners around the world to focus more on the “S” pillar of ESG and their growing interest in investing for positive real-world outcomes alongside competitive financial returns.”
Anita Bhatia, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, commented: “UN Women’s mission is to achieve a world in which all women and girls can exercise their basic human rights and can unlock their full economic and social potential. Achieving gender equality is at the heart of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and requires strong public-private partnerships that will direct greater flows of financing towards gender equality objectives. We are pleased to partner with BlackRock, a leading global asset manager, to make a real impact and to catalyze global markets to bring gender lens investing to the fore.”
Later this year, BlackRock and UN Women will co-host an event, “Scaling Up Gender Lens Investing: Examining the Economic Case,” which will bring together leading institutional investors, policymakers, nonprofits, and academics to discuss how market-based strategies can help improve women’s economic participation and close the gender gap in funding.