MEDA releases updated Gender and Environment-Mainstreamed Business Improvement Tool

In celebration of Earth Day, we would like to present our updated Gender Equality Mainstreaming (GEM) Framework which better integrates diversity, inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

For decades, MEDA has been at the forefront of integrating gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and environmental sustainability with innovation in private sector development. MEDA launched the GEM Framework in 2018 built on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) standards and as a product of our efforts to advance gender equality, business growth and impact. The framework is built on MEDA’s expertise in market system development and women’s economic empowerment to create a resource for mainstreaming gender equality in targeted companies with potential for positive impacts on small businesses and entrepreneurs.

GEM was one of the first tools in the gender lens investment space, and since it was launched, it has been applied to almost 40 different firms, investment funds and organizations. In 2022, MEDA decided to synthesize learnings and update the GEM Framework based on the feedback received from clients and the changing needs of the sector. The revised GEM Framework and its accompanying manual now include a comprehensive approach that encompasses not only gender equality but also diversity, equity, and inclusion. Furthermore, it incorporates an environmental and climate change perspective, particularly in areas where it intersects with gender equality issues.

This Earth Day, we are releasing the new GEM Framework as a publicly available tool to help firms achieve greater gender equity.

MEDA’s updated GEM Framework applies a gender and environment lens to the ESG investment industry standard that incorporates environmental, social and governance criteria into the assessment and upgrading of company performance. Through applying a gender and environment lens across the standard, we elevate these important considerations from being pigeonholed in the ‘environmental’ and ‘social’ domains of ESG to look at how they both interact with criteria across the standard and all areas of business operations. We go beyond each individual component to explore the interconnections between gender and environment as a way to identify challenges and opportunities for companies.

There are well documented examples of how the impacts of climate change are gendered, and the impact of gender diversity on good governance. Given the widespread adoption of ESG in impact and mainstream investing and the growing commitment to gender equality in the global development sector, MEDA’s GEM Framework provides an entry point for investors and companies to adapt and improve policies and practices for more inclusive business growth and economic development. MEDA has implemented almost 40 GEM assessments between 2017 and 2021. Over the years, MEDA has adapted the toolkit for use in different countries and languages across projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Through this process, MEDA has gained valuable learnings to better assess, analyze and recommend gender-responsive and environmentally sustainable actions for business growth and impact. We are currently conducting research on our GEM clients and will be sharing our results later in the year.

Specific changes to enhance the environmental component of the Framework include additional questions and scoring criteria around companies’ actions to avoid, reduce, or mitigate negative environment and/or climate impacts as well as engagement in conservation efforts. There is also additional focus on environment strategies and whether companies have in place objectives, trainings, and contributions to the local community around environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation and adaptation. These actions and strategies support companies to advance along the industry’s ESG investment standard, manage reputational risk and increase their competitiveness for finance and investment.

The updated GEM Framework has been designed with user experience in mind, all tools are available for download in functional formats. MEDA hopes that this updated manual will be a useful resource for those using the GEM Framework around the world, please find this available on our website at: The GEM Framework – MEDA.

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