Reflection: Finance as a Tool to Address Gender-Based Violence Workshop, January 22-23, 2018
This was contributed by Nina Weissberg. Nina Weissberg, CEO of Weissberg Investment Corp (WIC), guides a diverse portfolio of long-term real estate commitments in the Greater Washington, DC community. In 2017, she joined the board of the Criterion Institute to focus energy on gender and social change through capital markets.
Last week, I had the honor of participating in Criterion’s TOOLKIT on Finance as a Strategy to Address Gender-Based Violence in Washington, DC. The deep gender knowledge and diversity of attendees reflected Criterion’s efforts to bring these groups into the conversation on using finance for social change. The organizations in attendance ranged from UNICEF, World Vision, Vital Voices and Tostan, best known for ending harmful practices on women and girls. Additionally, we had participants from ICRW Advisors, the Pan American Health Organization and Together for Girls, to name just a few of attendees brought together with the support of the Wallace Global Fund.
Criterion President and Founder Joy Anderson broke down the TOOLKIT boxes, demystifying financial markets while empowering this group of mostly younger women as the actors and knowledge holders in the gender-based violence conversation. Their unique expertise shaped exciting discussions about language, valuing gender in financial markets, and the root causes of gender-based violence. Throughout the workshop, Joy emphasized that the work had to be grounded in gender theory and not financial practice. Finance, however, is a tool for achieving social change which many considered for the first time. TOOLKIT was impressive and even on my second round, a great learning experience for me.
Daniela Ligiero of Together for Girls shared with us her impressions after the two days: “I’ve been working on gender-based violence for many decades and had never grasped how this knowledge, expertise and understanding can help shape and influence the financial system as a whole. The TOOLKIT opened up my mind to so many ways that we can use the financial system to have impact.”
At the close, the attendees were asking for next steps, deeper conversations, follow up on actions, information on how they can engage finance professionals. Every hand in the room went up without hesitation when folks were asked who wanted to continue to work together—a testament to how empowered people felt after just two days together. This follow-up has already begun, so look out for more on the insights from this workshop in the coming weeks. This is the first of many planned gender-based violence TOOLKITs to engage and mine the knowledge of the experts in the field of gender with the goal of harnessing the power of financial markets to address gender-based violence.
For more information or to get involved in Criterion’s work, please contact our Director of Engagement, Christina Madden (firstname.lastname@example.org).