Published on Voices

Infrastructure investments through a gender lens help women build better lives

This page in:
Woman on a bus. Photo: © leshiy985/Shutterstock
Woman on a bus. Photo: © leshiy985/Shutterstock

Infrastructure is central to achieving the full and equal participation of women and girls in the global economy. When women gain access to modern energy sources, safe transport services, and digital technology resources, they can better connect to jobs, markets and other opportunities. 

Taking into account the needs of women can go a long way toward closing infrastructure gaps and promoting inclusive growth. We see this in the energy sector, where women are disproportionately affected by household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels like wood and coal. Our soon-to-be released report, State of Access to Modern Energy Cooking Services, estimates that almost half of the global population lack access to clean, efficient, safe and affordable cooking energy.  To eliminate this harmful practice, we first need to tackle the funding gap. We started this effort by establishing a $500 million Clean Cooking Fund through the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), with the aim of increasing the scale of investment needed to improve gender, health and climate outcomes.

The health and safety of women is also a consideration in the transport sector. While women represent the largest share of public transport users worldwide, their mobility is limited due to inadequate services and concerns about harassment and gender-based violence.  Polls show that in many countries, up to 80% of women feel unsafe while using public transport. This, coupled with the fact that women and other vulnerable groups are the “invisible travelers” in urban transport planning, is why we need to help countries design and deliver inclusive transport systems that not only address the security and mobility patterns of women, but also promote the empowerment of women as operators, engineers and decision-makers.

The digital revolution is opening doors to the jobs of the future, yet globally, 400 million women remain unconnected to the internet.  To play our part in bridging this divide and mobilizing the tech community, we have partnered with CES to reward scalable solutions that tackle inequality in the form of a Global Tech Challenge. This challenge calls for innovative and concrete ideas to enhance digital access for women, build digital skills for women and girls, and increase the availability of online content and digital platforms for women.

By approaching infrastructure investments through a gender lens, we can help women improve their access to economic opportunity and contribute to their country’s growth.  This in turn allows them to create better futures for themselves, their families and their communities. Let us be the generation that makes this the standard.


Makhtar Diop

IFC’s Managing Director and Executive Vice President

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000