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Provide Gender-Responsive Procurement For Women Entrepreneurs – Tallen

Andrew Tarker, Abuja

Women Affairs Minister, Dame Paulen Tallen, has called on procurement institutions to provide Gender-Responsive environment for women entrepreneurs in the country.

The minister made the call in Abuja during a high-level policy Dialogue/Exhibition to promote the application of Gende-Responsive procurement practices in public and private organizations, themed ‘Strengthening the Capacity of Local MSMEs/Manufacturers to Produce High Quality PPEs and Healthcare-related Products’ powered by UN Women in collaboration with International Labour Organisation, ILO, United Nations Industrial Development, UNIDO, World Health Organisation, WHO, to build capacity of women on production of quality Personal Protective Equipment and other healthcare related products

Tallen said: “The drive and push for the application of gender responsive procurement practices in both public and private sector is hinged on the premise that women are the catalysts in the growth and development of any country, in Nigeria, women account for 41% of the ownership of MSMEs represented by 23 million female entrepreneurs. This has placed among other sovereign States with a significantly high number of female entrepreneurs globally.

“Though the businesses owned and operated by women are mostly suited as micro and small enterprises, they have the potentials to expand in scope, diversify supply chain, grow the economy as well as simultaneously improve the lives of women and girls in Nigeria. However, there is documented evidence that women owned MSMEs face across various socio-economic constraints which limit their optimal performance and impact on the overall macroeconomy.

“Bearing this in mind, the Ministry recognizes the implementation of Gender-Responsiveness in all endeavors (in this case procurement) as a veritable avenue for both government and private sector to remodel markets and advance the development of women’s entrepreneurship and create more opportunities for economic empowerment for women.

“Despite government’s unrelenting effort to support and empower women in MSMEs, access and participation in some of these procurement opportunities has remained challenging. These challenges are hinged upon the fact that procurement institutions, policies and practices are gender neutral and dominated by men. As such, there is huge gender disparity when it comes to access to procurement information by women owned businesses. Even when a business owned by a woman eventually makes it to the bidding process, they have limited social and financial capital to compete effectively.

“This high level policy Dialogue/Exhibition focuses on addressing the knowledge gaps among procurement officers and women owned businesses, and forster institution’s policy change so as to adopt Gender-Responsive procurement policies and practices. So, we seek the intellectual prowess of all stakeholders here present to adequately address the issues relating to gender responsive procurement process in order to provide the necessary tools and enabling environment for women owned businesses to leverage on.” She stated.

The UN Women representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Beatrice Eyong, earlier responding stated that: “UN Women has
taking time to select and trained 63 women entrepreneur sproducing PPEs, we have provided business mentorship by experienced women leaders. UN Women has provided business
mentorship, brandingand marketing and skills to manage large scale production. UN Women will be providing startup kits to the 63 women for the production of at least 20 dozen of
products.

“Women-owned/led businesses are a growing share of all enterprises in many African countries. Studies indicate that up to one third (34.5%) of formal firms in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) report women ownership participation (World Bank, 2011). Public procurement represents an attractive market for women entrepreneurs since it accounts for 15 to 30 per cent of GDP globally. In addition, procurement can sometimes consume as much as 50 per cent of GNP in some countries. Public procurement, therefore, creates market opportunities that have long been recognized as an engine for growth for small and medium enterprises.

“Today’s policy dialogue and exhibition
focuses on pathways and interventions for enhancing the capacity of local MSMEs and manufacturers, especially women owned businesses and women entrepreneurs, towards expanded access to markets by exploiting procurement opportunities within your respective
institutions.

“The Government of Nigeria and the United Nations system have devised a project aimed at strengthening the capacity of local MSMEs and manufacturers to produce high-quality PPEs and healthcare-related products. The project, jointly implemented by International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Women, with funding support from the UN Basket Fund, supports the capacity of Nigerian MSMEs and manufacturers to grow and expand their business operations by producing quality and standardized PPEs to meet with global standards.

“Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of female entrepreneurs in the world, yet women owned businesses do not secure procurement contracts, suggesting systematic gender disparities in the procurement systems of both government and private sector organizations. As part of UN Women’s support to the ongoing joint intervention, UN Women Nigeria in collaboration with the federal Ministry of Women Affairs (FMWA) is hosting this policy dialogue and exhibition to facilitate and amplify the application of gender-responsive
procurement practices. This is expected to ensure expanded access to market for the Women owned Entrepreneurs and promote women entrepreneurs as suppliers of highquality PPEs and healthcare products.

“We hope to achieve several objectives today, of which including these well trained Women Owned Businesses in your respective vendor lists, address knowledge gaps among procurement officer son how to apply gender responsive procurement strategies and increase the participation of women entrepreneurs in the procurement space of both private and public organizations, takes priority.

“We implore you to buy from women today, as it not only ensures the diversification of your supplier base and reduces supply chain risks, but you would also be contributing to the attainment of the SDGs. Additionally, I will also want to note that our deliberations today at this policy dialogue would proffer practical actions and strategies for applying, consolidating and sustaining responsive procurement actions in your respective
organizations.

“Let me also reiterate that today’s event is not only for dialogues but includes an exhibition of the finished products manufactured by the trained women MSMEs.This event is effectively a meet-the-buyer event that links the buyer and the seller together as a means of promoting access to market and business expansion for women entrepreneurs.

“Achieving gender equality and sustainable development through gender responsive procurement, will require a set of shared underlying values and the acknowledgement that the objective is a multi year undertaking. Indeed, organizations like yourscan play a pivotal role in achieving the SDGs by empowering women through the application of gender responsive procurement.” She stated.

The high point of the occasion was the presentation on strategies for implementation of gender responsive procurement in organizations by the deputy country representative, UN Women Nigeria, Mr. Lansana Wonneh, who was represented by Chukwuemeka Onyimadu, PhD, a National Economists in the organization, and presentation of certificates and startup kits to the 63 women trained by the various organizations by the Minister, as well as a discussion by resource persons.

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