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    Equality between women and men is one of the European Union’s founding values and a key objective of the Sustainable Development Goals. As the EU's bank, we are committed to delivering projects that benefit all communities equally. Our duty is to ensure that women and men have equal access to our projects.

    Gender norms have hindered women from realising their full potential. We aim to empower women by recognising their leadership capabilities and providing them with financial tools.

    We are committed to support projects and investments that empower women worldwide, in line with our Gender Action Plan. The EIB's Climate Bank Roadmap 2021-25 commits us to invest strategically in projects that promote environmental sustainability, the green transition, and gender equality simultaneously.

    The EIB was the first multilateral development bank to adopt the 2X Challenge criteria, which promotes gender lens investment in low and middle-income countries. We also helped establish 2X Global, an organisation that brings together investors and intermediaries to promote gender lens investing across developed and emerging economies.

    Women-led enterprises

    Surveys such as the EIB Investment Survey and the EBRD-EIB-World Bank Group Enterprise Survey show that supporting female-led businesses can have positive economic, social, and environmental impacts. By supporting these businesses, we can increase female labour force participation and reduce poverty risks. 

    Read more about our research  

    Women often struggle to access financing and other economic services. We created SheInvest, an initiative that aims to promote gender-smart investments by developing innovative digital solutions and financial products that increase women’s economic opportunities and social inclusion.

    Read more about SheInvest  

    Supporting climate action with a gender lens

    The EIB Group Climate Bank Roadmap defines the provision of gender-responsive climate finance as a thematic priority area for the EIB. It commits to invest more strategically in projects that simultaneously support the green transition, environmental sustainability and gender equality.

    We invest in projects that enable women to actively tackle the effects of climate change, such as backing female-led climate funds and women entrepreneurs. We ensure that women have access to low-carbon infrastructure and services while tackling deep-rooted gender inequalities. Additionally, the EIB supports its clients to set targets for women’s employment and leadership opportunities in their climate projects through advisory and technical assistance.

    We partnered with the UK's development finance institution (BII) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to lead an initiative called the 2X Climate Finance Taskforce within 2X Global. The goal was to use gender-smart investments to support climate action. In 2021, we launched a toolkit called The 2x Gender-Smart Climate Finance Guide at COP26 to help identify investment opportunities that benefit both gender equality and climate goals.

    Designing infrastructure with women’s needs in mind

    The EIB is making changes to how infrastructure is planned and delivered by ensuring that design serves the needs of both men and women equally. This helps create jobs and boost women’s income, leading to more stable local economies. To support the EU Gender Strategy and Sustainable Development Goals, We have created a Gender and Social Advisory Initiative. This initiative ensures that new infrastructure projects benefit women and make urban infrastructure accessible to all.

    2022 by the numbers

    45 projects financed

    that significantly contributed to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment across the globe

    €719.5 million

    in direct support of women’s economic empowerment through financial intermediaries

    €4.6 billion

    for projects that support gender equality in the bioeconomy, digital, energy, health, mobility, urban development and water sectors

    Our strategy

    The EIB Group has a Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment and a Gender Action Plan. The Bank aims to embed gender equality and, in particular women’s economic empowerment in the EIB’s business model.

    The strategy applies to EIB’s activities worldwide and focuses on three thematic areas of action:


    Protect: We develop procedures and tools to uphold the right of girls and women. We achieve this by identifying and mitigating gender-specific risks, such as violence and harassment.

    Safety for women is an important issue on big infrastructure projects like the metro in Bangalore. Built with the need of women in mind, this metro dedicated two cars on each train exclusively to female passengers, which is vital when the line is packed.

    Explore more gender focused transport solutions  


    Impact: We analyse our investment choices from a gender perspective and support clients in designing gender-responsive projects. We back projects involving services and products that contribute to gender equality and more opportunities for women.

    Roads are vital for creating growth for societies. The European Union and the EIB supported the Lao government in rehabilitating 1 400 kilometres of unpaved roads in six of the country's provinces.

    Thanks to this project, women can now move safely and comfortably from one place to another.

    Discover our Chance for Change series  

    ©Alitheia IDF

    Invest: We support projects that support women. We achieve this by financing women entrepreneurs and prioritising women-led companies, thereby creating quality jobs for women and enhancing their access to capital and credit. We also offer EIB clients technical assistance and other incentives that enhance gender equality.

    We support funds such as Alitheia IDF which invests in and grows small and medium-sized enterprises led by gender-diverse teams to achieve solid financial returns and tangible social impact in Africa.

    Read the story  

    SheInvest - boosting women's economic growth

    Women still earn around 25% less than men. Nearly a billion women can’t get loans to start a business and they can’t open a bank account to save money. Advancing women’s equality in banking and the workplace could add as much as $28 trillion to the global economy by 2025. 

    That’s why we launched the SheInvest initiative to boost investments that help women get loans and run businesses across Africa. At the end of 2022, at the Finance in Common Summit, we extended our initiative to mobilise another €2 billion of gender-lens investment in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

    SheInvest is complemented by a €2 million technical assistance programme, the African Women Rising Initiative, which provides capacity building and mentoring to women entrepreneurs and supports intermediaries in designing financial and non-financial services tailored to their needs in sub-Saharan Africa.

    SheInvest in a nutshell

    • Focus on innovative digital solutions, climate financing and female-led businesses
    • Guided by the 2X Challenge criteria
    • Mobilised €2 billion in Africa in less than three years
    • Geographical scope: Africa, Asia and Latin America

    The 2X Challenge

    Women are often excluded from financial markets and are limited in their economic and social potential. The 2X Challenge calls for the G7 and other development finance institutions to collectively support women’s economic empowerment in developing countries.

    We are the first multilateral development bank to have adopted the global 2X Challenge gender criteria. Since the start of the initiative in 2019, the Bank has mobilised more than €2 billion and helped African women get better access to finance, as well as dedicated coaching, tailored services, and products.

    More information on the 2X Challenge

    2X Challenge investment criteria

    • 51% or more women ownership or business founded by a woman
    • 20-30% women in senior leadership or 30% women on the Board or Investment Committee
    • 30-50% or more women in the workforce and a programme supporting women’s employment
    • Products or services that specifically or disproportionately benefit women
    • Investments through funds or financial intermediaries are eligible when at least 30% of businesses supported meet the 2X Criteria

    In the spotlight

    We embed gender equality in all our operations. Discover our stories that shine a light on women around the world.