In today’s dynamic business environment, characterised by the global pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the increasing significance of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles, the role of women entrepreneurs and women owned businesses in supply chains and in society has gained even greater importance.
Nevertheless, a noticeable gender disparity persists in procurement opportunities within both the private and public sectors.
Gender-Responsive Procurement (GRP) involves the strategic and conscious procurement of goods, services, and works from enterprises either owned or led by women or those demonstrating strong gender-responsive policies and practices in their employee and supply chains.
GRP strengthens women’s presence in the business sector and yields beneficial advantages the society and private sector. By incorporating diversity into procurement practices and supply chain, businesses pave the way for sustainable and inclusive growth, aligning directly with the SDGs and the pillars of ESG principles.
The UN Women and Women In Successful Careers (WISCAR) recently put together a CEOs Roundtable on Gender-Responsive Procurement funded by the African Development Bank.
The roundtable which aims to foster a meaningful dialogue on implementing Gender-Responsive Procurement (GRP) measures within organisation, represents the first step towards the establishment of a private sector forum on engendering supply chains.
Speaking during the roundtable, Beatrice Eyong, UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS said this is a partnership between UN Women, African Development Bank and WISCAR on affirmative procurement and gender responsive procurement.
Eyong said that despite the fact that women are so important to the economy and contribute a lot to the economy, and women enterprises in Nigeria form 40 percent of the total business, they still have a problem of accessing public contract.
“What obtains at the global level is one percent of women-led enterprises who are accessing public contract. Public contracts are very important for women entrepreneurs and women-led enterprises. This is not only a human right issue but an economic issue.
“We have 19 percent of households in Urban areas led by women. If you do the maths, you will see that this is about 40 million people within those households. If we don’t work very hard to see that these women headed households are mainstreamed into our economic development, we would leave 40 million people out of our development strategy.
“So, Gender-Responsive Procurement is asking the question that in your list of service providers, what is the diversity in that list ? Do we have women and people with disabilities and people from the rural areas,” she explained.
Also speaking at the event, Bernard Chitunga, Africa Development Bank Representative said in as much as access to finance is being talked about, there are issues of capacities among various stakeholders both public and private.
He said this is why the issue of technical assistance is key.
“There is also the issue of enabling environment, the policies and the institutional and regulatory framework that exist. Some may be an impediment and some may need to be enhanced. So, going forward, the whole systemic issues that exist and hinder gender equality must be addressed.
“That is why in the Africa Development Bank, we need approach to push access to finance and improve on capacities and work with government and other related institutions on issues on reforms and policies and around frameworks. So everyone is needed to make this happen,” Chitunga explained.
Amina Oyagbola, founder and chairperson, WISCAR said “nothing can be achieved without money. We have been trying to achieve the attainment of sustainable development goal 5 for a long time.
She said a lot of progress has been made but COVID-19 happened and that took Nigeria back in many areas.
“Where the money goes, who manages the money flows? Who has access to capital ? amongst others. The owners of the capital determine what happens to that money. They are the ones who decide what the priorities should be and where that money should be invested.
“So, if you are not in that game and don’t already have a ticket to get on to that train, in terms of contracting and allocation of huge contacts that will enable you to build a store of wealth, then the influence would not be there.
“You don’t have to be in politics but if you don’t have money, then you don’t have a voice and there would be marginalisation, which is where women are substantially,” Oyagbola said.
She reiterated that there is a need to find a way to ensure women have access to the sources of capital beyond having to go to a bank to go and take a loan.
This, she said will enable women grow and have a ripple effect in terms of its impact on the social economic landscape.