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Procurement for Impact: The Power of Women’s Entrepreneurship to Create More Inclusive Value Chains

11:30-13:00 (Bangkok time, GMT+7), 1 June 2021

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Organised by United Nations Entity for the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)


This session is organized by WeEmpowerAsia , a UN Women programme funded by and in partnership with the European Union, that seeks to increase the number of women who lead and participate in business in  Asia. The programme works to achieve its vision through three interrelated outcome areas:

  • Creating an Enabling Environment in which women’s networks, public institutions, and the private sector collaborate and share expertise and knowledge to promote women’s economic empowerment in the workplace and in the marketplace.

  • Promoting Gender-Inclusive Entrepreneurship by developing the capacity of women- led/benefitting businesses and women entrepreneurs and promoting gender-inclusive policies and practices for men-owned businesses and men entrepreneurs.

  • Advancing gender-inclusive business by mobilizing private sector organizations to implement gender-sensitive practices and culture within their businesses through commitment and implementation of the  Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs)

Across the Asia Pacific, women’s entrepreneurship is emerging as a critical policy and business priority given its recognized potential contribution to regional and national economic growth, and as a means to support and create new employment opportunities for women. Across the region, approximately 60% of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) are owned/led by women.6 Yet, while the numbers appear high, the overwhelming majority are microenterprises, with low rates of female ownership of small and medium enterprises (SME). Gender-specific constraints, exacerbated by intersecting discriminations, contribute to the gender-specific “missing middle” phenomenon, with growth-oriented women owned/led SMEs (WSMEs) struggling to scale up.8

Women’s businesses struggle to access markets. This is due to a combination of factors, including their smaller size, position within value and supply chains, and prevailing gender inequalities (e.g. lack of networks). At the same time, larger Asian and multi-national companies’ sourcing footprints across the Asian geography are huge. Exports differ country per country and include various sectors, such as jewelry, garment and textile, agriculture and seafood, and other fast-moving consumer goods. Increasingly, multi-national and larger Asian companies are enhancing their efforts towards creating more gender-inclusive companies and supply chains. 

Session Description

This session will discuss entry points for advancing women’s businesses in the Asia Pacific region through gender-responsive procurement. Gender-responsive procurement is emerging as a powerful mean to bridge women’s businesses to markets and support their viability and growth while supporting larger companies to put a gender-lens to their sourcing footprint and ultimately allow international trade to become more gender-equal. This session will facilitate a multi-stakeholder conversation to understand challenges and opportunities for all actors in the Asia Pacific, both the public and private, can implement and benefit from gender-responsive procurement.

Session Objectives

The key objectives of this session are to: 

  • Create a common understanding on what gender-responsive procurement (GRP) is;

  • Raise awareness about the economic opportunity for women, business and society to advance GRP; 

  • Understand barriers and challenges to advance GRP; 

  • Learn from examples on how to advance GRP; 




Panelists will reflect on the following questions:

  • Where does the Asia-Pacific stand on GRP, both in the public and private sector? 

  • What are the biggest challenges and opportunities to leverage the power of procurement to advance gender-equality?

  • How can incentives in public and private procurement schemes stimulate a more equal playing field for women-owned enterprises?  

  • What can we learn from existing platforms, networks, and good practices in the region and beyond? 

  • What role does target-setting and transparent reporting play to advance GRP?

For questions, please contact unrbhrforum@undp.org