By Krista Nymark VandenBrink

In December of 2011, the United Nations formally declared October 11, International Day of the Girl. Today, the global community shines a spotlight on girls’ rights and promotes their empowerment. The Red Deer + District Community Foundation is celebrating this day, locally, by announcing its $165,000 Gender Lens Investment Program.

What is Gender Lens Investment? Well, generally speaking, it’s an opportunity to invest in local organizations that work toward the improved quality of life for girls, women, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse members of our community. Gender Lens Investment is multi-layered; yes, it considers gender  but also intersectionality and the knowledge that the colour of one’s skin, or their religious beliefs also plays role in gender equity and equality. Vast amounts of research show that when people invest in organizations and businesses with mandates to promote gender equity and equality, communities begin to see a variety of both social and economic returns. In fact, in a report published by Calvert Impact Capital, gender equity could be incredibly transformative for economies, with more that $28 trillion potentially added to the global economy if women were to play an identical role in the labour markets to that of men. 

Over the course of the next six months, the Red Deer and District Community Foundation will open its Gender Lens Investment Program to applicants with a mandate to serve and empower girls, women, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse community members, ensuring a more positive, fulfilling and equitable future. How can organizations serve and empower?

By investing in Central Alberta through the eye of a gender lens, we enhance the social and economic fabric of our communities – empowered girls + women, create long-term, sustainable change. In fact, in 2007, World Bank argues that when we invest in girls and women, they, in turn, invest in the wellbeing of their economies and their families, “one dollar loaned to [invested in] a woman [or girl], has greater development impact than one dollar loaned to a man.”

$165,000 is just the tip of our Gender Lens Investment commitment. We will work to grow this fund so that we can invest in even more Central Alberta girls and women. As a way to celebrate International Day of the Girl, we invite you to donate to this fund and play an active role in contributing to the empowerment of girls, women, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse members of our communities. 

For more information on The Community Foundation’s Gender Lens Investment project, please contact Erin Peden at