Pro Mujer, Deetken Impact, and USAID Launch the Ilu Toolbox to Promote Gender Equity in Companies

The Ilu Toolbox helps companies address internal gender gaps and can be used to promote and attract gender lens investing that generates both economic and social returns. 

Pro Mujer, in collaboration with Deetken Impact, a Canadian impact asset manager, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), created and launched an interactive toolbox to help small and medium businesses in Latin America incorporate gender lens and improve their diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.  

The Ilu Toolbox is part of the Ilu Women’s Empowerment Program implemented as part of the Ilu Women’s Empowerment Fund, which provides capital, technical assistance, and education to small and medium businesses and strengthens gender lens investing in Latin America.  

Using the results of a self-assessment, the Ilu Toolbox helps companies incorporate a gender approach across the following areas:

Each of these areas generates both social and economic impacts and helps the company improve its financial performance while also encouraging more impact investors to allocate capital to these types of companies.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated gender inequality and threatened the progress made to date, further aggravating existing inequalities and barriers and leaving many communities in extremely vulnerable situations,” said María Cavalcanti, President and CEO of Pro Mujer. “Pro Mujer is working with our partners to strengthen gender lens investing and with local companies to encourage a commitment to diverse and inclusive environments that are free from discrimination and that allow more women to take on leadership roles.”  

In Latin America, serious gender gaps are still seen in the economic, business, and investment sectors. According to the International Labour Organization, women in the region earn “17% less than men for each hour worked.” Many women also find themselves dealing with hostile or discriminatory workplaces, with 27% of women reporting having experienced gender-based violence in the workplaceaccording to Mexico’s National Women’s Institute 

Within the business world, companies led by women have less access to capital and financing, with only 6% of total venture capital funding going to women-led businesses in Latin America 

When it comes to women in leadership, a report published by Deloitte found that only 8% of board seats are held by women, while only 1.2% of companies have a female CEO.  

Strengthening gender lens strategiecan help attract more impact investors from around the world.   

As gender lens investors, we work closely with our portfolio companies to integrate gender into their business strategy. We’ve observed that companies are motivated to advance their practices and become gender leaders in the region, but find it difficult to know where to start.” commented Alexa Blain, Managing Partner at Deekten Impact. “With USAID and Pro Mujer we agreed it was important to make practical, actionable tools available that were geared for small and medium-sized companies, relevant to the regional context and available in both English and Spanish. The toolbox is an important part of our overall strategy to support the gender lens investing ecosystem in Latin America.” 

The Ilu Toolbox is available here: https://bit.ly/IluToolboxEng