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Women and girls typically experience the most extreme poverty because they face greater burdens of unpaid work, limited assets and productive resources compared to men, less access to education, and cultural factors that limit life-chances including early marriage. In addition, while there is a growing body of evidence showing that innovation has the power to transform women’s lives, there is minimal information globally and from Tanzania on how innovations may differentially impact the lives of girls and women, how gender dynamics affect innovation, and what may be successful approaches to addressing these challenges.

This White Paper presents HDIF’s initial learning about the relationship between innovation and gender including critical learning from five HDIF-supported innovations and other partners. These innovations – AFPHTA, Ubongo, Dageno, Camfed and Fundación Paraguaya, as well as two examples from the innovation ecosystem – are helping women and girls to access better-quality services and become emboldened to make positive changes to their lives. Looking to the future, these innovations and others like them hold the potential to catalyse shifts in the norms that shape and govern gender relations, bringing large-scale change to individuals and societies alike.

To explore learning about the relationship between innovation and gender, HDIF’s approach looks at four drivers of gender equity when testing and scaling innovations. The drivers represent the impact of innovations that result in positive shifts in the lives of women and girls. The drivers describe three elements of women’s and girls’ lives that move them towards greater autonomy and agency. Underlying all three are the key societal factors – economic, social and cultural – that shape the lives of women and girls.

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