Criterion Institute is making a long-term commitment to addressing gender-based violence, directing one third of our resources over the next five years toward reimagining possibilities for using finance as a tool to effect change on this critical issue.
According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. In the United States alone, intimate partner violence is estimated to cost the economy $5.8 billion annually, while the global cost of violence against women is estimated at $1.5 trillion or 2% of global GDP—more than the costs of homicides or civil war.
These numbers, in the language of finance, are material. Like climate change, gender-based violence presents a risk to any company, industry or geographic market. And we can influence how that risk is assessed, the data investors see as valuable, and how finance professionals respond in their analyses, structures and processes.
But we can also imagine other futures. What if gender-based violence decreased by half over the next few years? How would one invest differently today if we saw that as a probable future scenario?
Over the past year—against the backdrop of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements—Criterion Institute has been working with investors, philanthropists and diverse social change experts to develop and test five strategies for using finance to address gender-based violence.  These include:
  • Channel capital to companies intentionally making a difference on gender-based violence and away from companies who are the worst offenders
  • Creating methodologies for appropriately valuing gender-based violence as a ubiquitous chronic risk that affects multiple industries, sectors and geographies;
  • Advocating for systems of finance to treat gender-based violence as a valid, material risk and therefore knowledge and data about gender-based violence matters to the practices of investing;
  • Structuring investments in the root causes of gender-based violence with terms and processes that align the uses of capital with the outcome sought; and
  • Creating visible portfolios with explicit goals to reduce gender-based violence and analyze gender-based violence in existing impact investment portfolios.
In the end, our goal is to move US$10 billion in investment capital to these strategies. To do this effectively, it is critical that we engage those directly affected by gender-based violence and the individuals and organizations that have worked on the issue long-term to ensure the outcomes are informed by actual needs and aware of potential unintended consequences.
Our approach to moving US$10 billion in capital to strategies for addressing gender-based violence consists of three pillars:
Build a coalition of investors and aggregate $1 trillion in intent to invest in solutions to gender-based violence
Criterion Institute is building momentum around finance and gender-based violence by convening a coalition of diverse investors interested in deploying capital to address the issue. In July 2017, we co-hosted a gathering with InFaith Community Foundation and Futures without Violence, where investors, philanthropists and gender experts came together to explore and test strategies developed by Criterion. The first US$10 million has already been moved with the WomenInvest InFaith Portfolio.
Criterion has since had conversations with dozens of wealth holders, asset managers, foundation endowments and government agencies who are interested in the topic. We are creating a subset of the coalition with our long-term institutional allies who manage capital on behalf of churches. We hosted a second gathering in Melbourne, Australia in November, co-hosted by The Difference Incubator, as part of a series of outreach events in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America. We will host a follow up to our initial gathering in San Francisco in July 2018 to amplify the work that has been accomplished and the new possibilities that have emerged over the course of the year.
Engage 1,000 individuals and 100 organizations with expertise on gender-based violence to design solutions
Criterion will radically expand the number and kinds of people and institutions who see themselves as having the power to engage in conversations about finance and utilize their expertise on gender-based violence to ensure our strategies are
effective. We will engage our existing partners and invite new collaborators to help design our programming and resources as we build the capacity of diverse social change makers to use finance to address gender-based violence.With support from Wallace Global Fund, we are bringing together leading grassroots and advocacy organizations with expertise on gender-based violence to adapt our TOOLKIT on Using Finance as a Tool for Social Change to focus on strategies for addressing the issue. We will develop implementation guides and other support for organizations integrating the strategies into their work.
In partnership with Oxfam America, we are adapting our Blueprint on Finance as a Tool for Social Change for international non-governmental organizations, with examples of how these influential institutions can leverage their assets to address
gender-based violence and other power inequities.
Work with fund managers to respond to demand for products that address gender-based violence 
Criterion will leverage its extensive and diverse network of fund managers to ensure they are aware of growing demand for products that address gender-based violence and support them as they develop these products. While Criterion does not manage capital, our research and other resources will support those who do.
Over the next year, our sponsored research platform, Gender Lens Investing and Market Risks (GLIMR), will look at gender patterns, including the shifting dynamics of gender-based violence and the opportunity costs and risks those dynamics present to
markets. This research is supported by ten corporate sponsors including U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Veris Wealth Partners, Cornerstone Capital and CapRock. In addition to financial support, these sponsors have devoted the time of analysts to test the research results against their own methodologies.
For investors seeking direct investment opportunities, Criterion is developing a model portfolio of enterprises with a positive impact on gender-based violence with resources and recommendations for incubators to identify and support these enterprises. We are expanding our partnerships with Pacific RISE and Investing in Women, both funded by the Australian government, to ensure that the growing momentum of gender lens investing across the Asia-Pacific region includes a focus on gender-based violence. And we are publishing a series of insights on how data on gender-based violence can shape the processes, structures and analyses of finance.


InFaith Community Foundation

Futures without Violence

Wallace Global Fund

Oxfam America

Key Areas

Gender-Based Violence, Tools for Investors, Tools for Asset Managers


Ways to Get Involved

If you’re interested in volunteer opportunities or how you can get involved, connect with us here.

Related Resources

Criterion Institute, 501(c)(3) 81 Church Hill Rd · Haddam, CT 06438 860-345-3520 (main) · ©2018, all rights reserved.

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