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Centre, NEPC demand women involvement in public procurement

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The International Trade Centre (ITC) and Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) have called for increased participation of Women-Owned Businesses (WOB) in public procurement in Nigeria.

NEPC Executive Director, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, made the called on Thursday in Abuja at a two-Day SheTrades Policy Dialogue on Promoting Women Economic Empowerment and Public Procurement, organised by ITC in collaboration with NEPC.

The SheTrades Commonwealth project aims at increasing economic growth and job creation in commonwealth countries by enabling increased participation of WOB in international trade.

The project is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and implemented by the ITC under the framework of SheTrades initiatives.

Awolowo said this was coming on the heels of recent report that addressing women’s inequality could add 28 trillion dollars to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2020, thereby enabling economies to unlock full potential.

Awolowo, represented by Mrs Evelyn Obidike, Director, Policy and Strategy, NEPC stated that public procurement was a powerful tool to achieve socio-economic objectives because it operated at intersection of the government’s regulatory and buying powers.

“In its combined role as buyer and policy maker, government has the opportunity to help shape and increase the participation of women-owned businesses in procurement markets.

“Public procurement policies, laws and regulations are designed based on principles of transparency, nondiscrimination, and maximum competition. These objectives can, and should include increased participation by women entrepreneurs,’’ he said.

According to him, women economic empowerment is crucial to economic growth and development, especially in emerging economies such as Nigeria.

He said that when women were economically empowered they could contribute significantly to employment generation, poverty reduction and increase in the standard of living.

“No longer does Nigeria want to export all her produce raw. We are eager to create value addition and it is female entrepreneurs that are leading this with the export of their products and services,’’ he said.

He recalled that NEPC in collaboration with the ITC inaugurated the SheTrades initiative in 2016 and the SheTrades in Commonwealth project in 2018 to empower women economically through greater participation in global trade and investment in Nigeria.

The NEPC further noted that the programmes had encouraged women entrepreneurs to register and make their businesses visible in the platform, leveraging trade as a channel for economic empowerment.

“The aim is to connect 200,000 women-owned businesses in Nigeria to international markets as part of the broader UN goal of connecting three million women by 2021.

“The initiatives equally offer a blueprint of seven global actions including public procurement, to unlock markets for women as well as a digital platform (web and mobile app) for women entrepreneurs to connect to buyers, investors and new markets.

“They provide a powerful platform that encourages stakeholders across governments and the private sector to address shortcomings and advance women’s economic empowerment.

“Gender equality and the empowerment of women is a prerequisite in achieving the Global Development Goals on Sustainable Development adopted by the UN setting forth an ambitious development agenda for 2030,’’ he said.

Appreciating ITC, he noted that the projects which were still on-going until May 2020 were very successful in Nigeria adding that it organised workshop in Lagos in 2018.

He said that the workshop targeted Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) owned by women in Textiles and Apparel, Agriculture Shea, Spices and Cashew, IT and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

The project, he said, had trained a total of 1,281 MSMEs owned by women on a variety of trade rated skills.

He further said that the project had connected 190 businesses to international buyers to date through support at international trade fairs, in country business linkage events, and partnership with large private sector companies.

“These activities have so far generated about 9m dollars of business leads, which the project is currently monitoring,’’ he said.

At the policy level, he said that the project was about to commence on-boarding for SheTrades Outlook, a comprehensive data platform focused on the role of women in trade and the effects of policy frameworks.

In an address, John Primose, Deputy Head of Office, DFID underscored the need for more women’s economic empowerment and listed ways by which DFID had supported.

Primose noted that economies with better gender equality could grow faster adding that bridging the gender gap in Sub-Saharan Africa could increase GDP by a staggering 34 per cent.

He explained that Nigeria’s Real GDP per capita growth could be higher by one percentage points each year if gender inequality was reduced in the region.

According to him, DFID is committed to placing women’s economic empowerment at the

heart of our approach globally and in Nigeria and helping to increase women’s role in international trade.

“Public procurement is a key driver of trade, both domestically and internationally, trade agreements are increasingly looking at the obligations of government to open public procurement opportunities to marginalised citizens,” he said.

Primose called for a very tangible framework to boost women’s access to economic opportunities which could be increased in trade, public procurement and gender.

The objective of the two-day dialogue is to develop a framework to support increased participation of women-owned business in public procurement in Nigeria.

Edited By: Donald Ugwu

Contact US: editor[at]nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247[at]gmail.com

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