Written by Godfrey AKON

Katagum decries low participation of women in procurement

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum, has decried the low participation of women in public procurement despite Nigeria being a signatory to several conventions on the inclusion of women.

Katagum made the complaint at a gender-based dialogue in Abuja on promoting women economic empowerment and public procurement in Nigeria jointly organised by the International Trade Centre, ITC, and the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, NEPC.

The minister, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Gender, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Chioma Fidel, said available statistics indicate that advancing women’s equality could add $28 trillion to global GDP by 2025, thus enabling economies to unlock their full potentials.

“In Nigeria, this thrust is reflected in the National Gender Policy which focuses on women empowerment, while also making a commitment to eliminate discriminatory practices that are hampering women’s businesses.

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

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

She said “these range from legal and regulatory hurdles to sociocultural norms and gender biases. For instance, women own or manage only one in five exporting firms even though they own an estimated 38% of all small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

“Women spend at least twice as much time on domestic and care work as men, which means the time they could spend on remunerated opportunities is reduced. It is imperative that all of these issues are addressed to unleash the full potentials of women.”

Earlier, ITC and NEPC also called for increased participation of Women- Owned Businesses, WOB, in public procurement in Nigeria.

Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, said Women economic empowerment is crucial to economic growth and development, especially in emerging economies like Nigeria.

Awolowo pointed out that when women are economically empowered they contribute significantly to employment generation, poverty reduction and increases the standard of living, adding that public procurement is a powerful tool to achieve socio-economic objectives because it operates at the intersection of the government's regulatory and buying powers.

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

While recalling NEPC collaboration with ITC, Awolowo observed that the SheTrades initiative and SheTrades in Commonwealth project has helped to provide a platform that encourages stakeholders across governments and the private sector to address shortcomings and advance women's economic empowerment.

According to him, Gender equality and the empowerment of women is a prerequisite in achieving the Global Development Goals on Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations.

 

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