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Why investing in women’s health is impact investing

Investing in women’s health can improve the lives of and decrease costs for these individual women but can also benefit their families, workplaces, and economies.

Why investing in women’s health is impact investing
[Source photo: Angelina Bambina/Getty Images]

Investing in projects from schools in Cambodia to agriculture-based financial incentives in the Dominican Republic to national emergency medical services in India is known as impact investing.

This term—which refers to putting capital towards enterprises aiming to generate social or environmental benefits—was first coined in 2007 and has since fueled improvements in the lives of people around the world.

Healthcare in general, like education and agriculture, is already a popular field for impact investing. Women’s health specifically, though, is an often overlooked yet obvious sector for impact. It offers investors the potential for outsized financial and social returns since bettering women’s health can improve their lives as well as their families, workforce, and countries’ overall economies.


Women make up 66% of family caregivers, looking out for those unable to care for themselves, like children or elderly parents. The estimated cost of this unpaid care is $1.5 trillion in the U.S. and $10.9 trillion globally.

But unhealthy women may struggle to keep others healthy. For example, women with endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may be in so much pain that they cannot stand up, much less watch unpredictable children. Women experiencing menopause might struggle with memory and concentration and could forget to give, or could give too much, medicine to their aging parents. For context, menopause affects all women who have gone through menstruation, endometriosis affects one out of every 10 women and PCOS affects one out of every five to 25 women. Yet, despite their ubiquity, these female-specific conditions only have treatment options, not cures.


Bettering women’s health can also make a difference outside their homes. It can increase women’s participation and productivity in the workforce. Among other benefits, working women boost productivity, increase economic diversification and income equality, and support economic resilience. Plus, if all working women in the U.S alone did not work—or could not work because of their health—or a single day, the country would lose almost $21 billion in GDP.

But a myriad of health issues can prevent women from working at their full capacity, if at all. Even sitting can be a challenge for an unhealthy woman. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is two to three times more common in women than in men, can prevent women from sitting for extended periods. On the flip side, excessive sitting can exacerbate their symptoms (and the normal office worker tends to sit for about 15 hours every day). Beyond sitting, 47% of responders in one study reported that RA-caused morning joint stiffness affected their work productivity, 33% said it caused them to arrive late for work, and 15% noted it required them to take sick leave over the past month.

Other conditions that affect women exclusively or disproportionately, such as mental health, period pain, and pregnancy, can have their own negative effects on women’s health and work. Globally, lost productivity due to anxiety and depression is valued at $1 trillion, and women are about two times more likely to have depression and/or anxiety than men are. Meanwhile, those with period pain saw nearly nine days in lost productivity per year, and, in another blow against working women, 38 countries still allow women to be legally fired for being pregnant.


Women collectively spend $500 billion annually on medical expenses. Birth control can cost up to $600 per year, feminine care throughout a woman’s life costs almost $2,000 (or more if she lives in one of the 21 states that tax these essential products as “luxury items”), and childbirth costs an average of $18,865 in the United States.

As women age and their risk for certain health issues increases, the costs keep accumulating. Estimated medical costs for gynecological cancers (cervical, ovarian, and uterine) are $3.8 billion collectively and, for breast cancer, are $3.14 billion. Menopause costs an average of $20,000 in often trial-and-error spending on doctor visits, prescriptions, products, and more.

Investing in innovative tools and treatments for reproductive health, cancers, and menopause, among others, could lower these costs to individual women and/or their insurance providers. The result could be an influx of capital, which would’ve otherwise been used to cover health-related expenditures, into a different sector of the economy that may need it.


Seventy to eighty percent of women’s health companies have a female founder. Investing in them helps fulfill the core value of impact investing: doing good while seeing good financial returns. Women-led companies, on average, have 35% higher ROIs and 63% higher valuations than all-male teams and have generated $0.78 revenue per dollar raised compared to all male teams’ $0.31. Companies with women on their corporate boards also tend to have greater diversityless corruption, and more focus on environmental, governance, and social issues than all-male boards. But, in 2022, only  1.9%   of venture capital funding went to female founders and women hold only 28% of corporate board seats.

In the United States alone, women are the dominant workersdecision-makersusers, and spenders of the $4 trillion+ U.S healthcare industry, but their specific healthcare needs have often been minimized and undervalued.

Investing in women’s health can improve the lives of and decrease costs for these individual women but can also benefit their families, workplaces, and economies: an outsized impact that makes this historically overlooked sector ripe and ready for impact investing.

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Linda Greub is the cofounder and managing director at Avestria Ventures. Eva Epker is the director of Marketing at Avestria Ventures. More