Belief-based Social Innovation: Gender-Lens’ Next Frontier

The gender lens movement is starting to fund cultural initiatives that are looking to re-examine and transform underlying beliefs that systematically disempower females in the first place.

We have reached the point when the conversation of women led entrepreneurship needs to shift beyond the rhetoric of empowerment and awareness. “Deeper contradictions between organizational goals and gender norms require more artful probing,” writes Emily Neilsen Jones and Musimbi Kanyoro in their recent co-authored article Belief- Based Social Innovation: Gender-Lens’ Next Frontier. “

Emily Nielsen Jones is co-founder and president of the Imago Dei Fund which is engaged in promoting human equality, justice, and peace around the world. Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro is president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women the largest publicly supported grant making foundation that advances human rights by investing in women-led organizations. Both co-authors believe that gender-lens investing needs to “move beyond seeing women and girls as a separate programmatic silo in one’s portfolio”, and that  gender norms need to be re-evaluated.

They ask:

“How can empowerment programs empower someone who is still seen by their culture and their religion as not possessing basic human agency to participate equally in their family, their community, and in all aspects of society?”

This is the elephant in the room.

Jones and Kanyoro believe that private philanthropy plays a critical role in strategically supporting networks of indigenous change agents working to create a deeper shift in gender norms. They call this type of work “belief-based social innovation.” In their article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review they explore global gender progress to date, the barriers to change that women face, and three promising paths for philanthropists seeking to influence beliefs at the root of harmful gender norms.

Read the full article, Belief-Based Social Innovation: Gender-Lens’ Next Frontier.

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