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FG committed to gender-responsive procurement – Minister

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The Federal Government says it is committed to gender-responsive procurement and strategies to ensure that women have equal access to jobs and contracts.

Amb. Mariam Katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, made this known on Thursday in Abuja at the SheTrades Dialogue on “Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment and Public Procurement in Nigeria”.

The dialogue was organised by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to develop a framework to support increased participation of Women –Owned Business in public procurement in Nigeria.

Katagum, represented by Mrs Chioma Fidel, Deputy Director, Gender, applauded the SheTrades initiative which was inaugurated in Nigeria since 2016 aimed at connecting three million women to the global market by 2021.

The minister noted that gender equality and the empowerment of women were prerequisites for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN, setting forth an ambitious development agenda to 2030.

According to the minister, available statistics indicate that advancing women’s equality can add 28 trillion dollars to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025, thus enabling economies to unlock their full potential.

Katagum stated that in Nigeria, this thrust was reflected in the National Gender Policy which focused on women empowerment, while also making commitment to eliminate discriminatory practices that were hampering women’s businesses.

“It is unfortunate that Nigerian women, as well as their counterparts around the world, continue to face significant challenges in their socio-economic endeavours.

“ Globally, when compared to their male counterparts, women entrepreneurs face disproportionate and complex barriers to accessing equal economic opportunities.

“These range from legal and regulatory hurdles to socio-cultural norms and gender biases,’’ she said.

As a signatory to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995, she said that Nigeria was committed to gender-responsive procurement and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

Katagum also said that the Federal Government was committed to the Joint Declaration of the 2017 Buenos Aires World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment.
This, she said, amongst others, acknowledged that improving women’s access to opportunities and removing barriers to their participation in national and international economies would enhance sustainable economic development.
“At the regional level, we have supported the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Supplementary Act on Gender Equality of 2015.
“At the national level, we have enacted the Public Procurement Act of 2007 and the Concession Regulatory Act of 2005, which govern public contracts in the country.

“At the state level, 23 out of 36 states have adopted the Public Procurement Act, other states are hereby urged to adopt the act,’’ the minister said.

Katagum said that in spite of the above, women’s participation in public procurement in Nigeria still remained low while procurement data, disaggregated by gender were not readily available.

Therefore, she said that gender-responsive procurement policy and practices should aim at understanding and addressing the barriers faced by women-owned businesses.

She noted that many UN members had also agreed to the principles of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women (March 2017) that specifically focused on increasing trade, procurement for women enterprises, cooperatives and self-help groups.

Urging for comprehensive efforts from all parties, she said that the ministry was poised to put in place policies and programmes to ensure dividends of the ‘’Change Agenda’’ of Federal Government.

According to the minister, Nigeria’s overall competitiveness and sustainable development depends on a reduction in gender disparities in all facets of development.

“SheTrades seeks the allocation of a minimum of 10 per cent corporate procurement to women-owned businesses. This approach will see to the participation of Nigerian women in global value chains,’’ she said.

Dr Judith Fessehaie, Policy Lead, ITC-SheTrades, said that it had three strategic agenda for 2020 which included bridging gap in women economic empowerment.

Fessehaie called for scale up of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and women participation in procurement, creation of ecosystem of integrated solutions and conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive.

The National Coordinator, Women in Services, Mrs Nkeiru Okpala, identified lack of institutional framework, low experience, and inadequate information among others as impediments to procurement.

Okpala said that it would continue to advocate for gender-inclusive policies in the procurement act to attain SDGs.

She urged the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to have a centralised registration of all companies interested in participating in procurement.

Edited By: Donald Ugwu

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