by | Oct 18, 2023 | BLog Post, Gender


Author: Precious Adigwe

The lack of data on women’s participation in public procurement in Nigeria makes it difficult to understand the impact of public procurement on women-owned businesses (WOBs). A report by Market Links captures the lack of representation of WOBs in the contractors’ market, stating, “There are no distinctive statistics on the number of WOBs that have been engaged in public procurement.”

WIth growing numbers of women-owned, over 51% increase since 2015 till date, women-owned businesses (WOBs) account for only 1% of all procurement at the federal and state level in Nigeria. However, efforts have been made to improve women’s participation through the introduction of Gender responsive procurement  (GRP). GRP is a gender mainstreaming tool that uses public procurement to promote gender equality. Its goal is to achieve a more socio-economically inclusive process and advance resources to WOBs.

The gender-responsive procurement (GRP) approach to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is commendable and much needed. However, there are challenges hindering female participation in public procurement in Nigeria, including:

·       Lack of capacity and technical know-how of procurement processes

·       Insufficient data

·       Presence of cultural and social norms

·       Access to funds and information

Without evidence, it is difficult to specifically speak to the challenges faced by women-owned businesses (WOBs). For example, we do not know the number of WOBs in Nigeria, how many WOBs are registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, the real-time challenges they face, or how many WOBs are contractors.

Data is essential for validating problems, defining problems, and identifying specific solutions. That is why we are looking at how data can be leveraged to achieve gender-responsive procurement in Nigeria.

Why is Data Important?

Data plays a crucial role in enhancing gender-responsive procurement by enabling the identification of gaps and opportunities, fostering transparency, motivating suppliers to enhance their performance, optimizing public expenditure, equality, and ultimately enhancing business performance, all while ensuring fairness and equal opportunities within the procurement process.

PPDC, with support from UN Women, conducted a mapping and capacity assessment of women-owned businesses (WOBs) in Lagos and Kaduna. This study examined key indicators and challenges hindering women participation in public procurement. The data from this research will enable us to design tailored solutions for WOBs in Lagos and Kaduna, addressing the specific challenges they face in each location. This can only be achieved because of the presence of data.

Data is essential for gender-responsive procurement because it helps us identify the problem, design effective solutions, and track our progress. As highlighted at the last Open Governance Summit in Estonia, “With data we can ask the question what is the PROBLEM and this can be understood through data.” Strategies designed from evidence are more likely to be successful because they address the root cause of the problem. Data can be used to disaggregate the number of registered businesses, bids submitted, contracts awarded, and contract values, as well as to identify women-led businesses and measure the impact of interventions. The session also highlights the improvement of women’s participation in public procurement in Uganda. 

Just like Nigeria, women owned businesses face lots of challenges in participating in public procurement, however, with use of data they develop a framework based on empirical analysis of the barriers faced by WOB. The study collected primary and secondary information using corresponding data collection and analyzing techniques.

Benefits of Data-Based Solutions to Achieve Gender-Responsive Procurement

Evidence is essential for promoting change. In this case, we have identified the need for increased female participation in public procurement. Our research has shown that the number of women-owned businesses in Nigeria is growing, and we have assessed the capacity of these businesses.

Data can help us:

1.   Improve the accuracy of our solutions by eliminating biases and assumptions.

2.   Increase efficiency by revealing patterns, trends, and insights. For example, business patterns in Lagos differ from those in Kaduna, so different solutions or approaches may be needed. This data can help us optimize resources and improve efficiency.

3.   Inform decision-making. For example, data can be used to advocate for reforms to the Procurement Act to integrate gender components.

4.   Develop cost-effective solutions by reducing operational costs and duplication of processes.

Closing the gender gap through gender-responsive procurement is essential for development and economic productivity and for achieving an inclusive society. However, we must first understand why women-owned businesses (WOBs) are underrepresented in public procurement. By identifying the root causes of the problem, we can develop effective and sustainable solutions. This can only be achieved through data gathering. As mentioned earlier, there is no data on female contractors in Nigeria, this is a challenge in itself and this is why PPDC’s work to leverage data to identify the lack of female representation in public procurement is so important. I am confident that we are on the right track to achieving gender-responsive procurement in Nigeria.