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Day 2  |  21 September


Transforming Markets through Inclusive Procurement

13:30-14:45 ICT


Globally, 1 in 3 businesses are owned by women, but women only win an estimated 1 % of the procurement spend of large corporations. In the Asia-Pacific region, approximately 60 % of MSMEs are owned by women. However, the overwhelming majority of MSMEs owned by women are informal, microenterprises, and struggle to scale up or survive due to gender-specific challenges in accessing finance, business skills and training, and markets. Due to the absence of sex-disaggregated data in public and private sector procurement mechanisms, the share of procurement in the Asia-Pacific cannot be precisely determined, but it is likely to reflect global trends and the overall weak position of women-owned businesses (WOBs) in the region.


An important vehicle to diversify public and private supply chains and stimulate gender-inclusive economy growth is Gender-responsive procurement (GRP), defined as “The sustainable selection of services, goods, or civil works that takes into account the impact on gender equality and women’s empowerment.” GRP promotes the principles of buying from women-owned businesses (WOBs) to enable their equitable access to markets and buying from gender-responsive enterprises (GREs) in order to create more gender-responsive value chains.


While the private sector has a major responsibility and role to play in boosting gender equality through inclusive procurement, GRP remains a nascent priority among businesses in the region. Of the Asia-Pacific businesses that participated in a recent analysis (the Women's Empowerment Principles Gender Gap Analysis Tool [WEPs Tool]), over three-quarters did not respond to questions related to GRP, indicating that few companies understand or are informed about GRP practices in their businesses. Further, WeConnect International reports that less than 1 per cent of large corporate and government spend worldwise goes to women-owned businesses.


For the public sector, the public procurement market is worth approximately one-fifth of global gross domestic product (GDP). In addition, public procurement accounts for over 30 percent of GDP in developing countries and 10–15 percent of GDP in developed countries. In the Asia Pacific region, public procurement is equal to or higher than the global average, meaning GRP could be a game changer for the region by opening market opportunities for millions of WOBs and GREs.  


GRP presents an untapped opportunity to disrupt the existing inequity in market dynamics and act as a lever of transformative market change. To address the structural gender inequities that exist within the global procurement market and unleash this opportunity, UN Women, with the support of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), has launched WE RISE Together (WRT), a three-year program as part of the wider Mekong-Australia Partnership project. WE RISE Together will introduce GRP as an opportunity to address and attempt to channel more procurement spend towards Women-owned Businesses (WOBs) and Gender Responsive Enterprises (GREs). WE RISE Together operates with the overall objective to empower more women to equally access, lead, and benefit from expanded market opportunities in the Mekong subregion.

WE RISE Together will seek to achieve its vision through four interrelated outcome areas:

  • To increase the number of public and private organizations that promote GRP.

  • To build more resilient and inclusive business models to strengthen the supply side.

  • To increase the capacity of larger private and public sector organizations to advocate, promote and implement GRP.

  • To provide more equitable market opportunities..


This multi-stakeholder session will bring together policymakers, corporates, entrepreneurs and international organizations in order to:

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

  • Raise awareness about the relevance of GRP as a lever of transformative market change, representing a major untapped economic opportunity for women, business and society

  • Understand the barriers and challenges to advancing GRP in the region

  • Learn from examples on how public and private sector actors can implement GRP



Guiding Questions

Panelists will reflect on the following questions:

  • Where does the region currently stand on gender-responsive public and private procurement?

  • What kind of challenges do women-owned businesses face in accessing markets and public and private procurement opportunities?

  • What is the responsibility and role of the private sector in promoting gender-responsive procurement?

  • How can support organizations leverage more coordinated efforts to advance inclusive procurement and GRP? What worked and what are the gaps?

  • How can gender-responsive laws and policies enable more women-owned businesses and gender-responsive enterprises to access markets and become more competitive in the procurement space?

Day1 programme
Image by Adli Wahid
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