Business leaders and women entrepreneurs meet in Istanbul to advance gender responsive procurement


Business leaders and women entrepreneurs at the Gender Responsive Procurement Summit in Istanbul. Photo: UN Women.
Business leaders and women entrepreneurs at the Gender Responsive Procurement Summit in Istanbul. Photo: UN Women.

Women entrepreneurs, industry leaders, civil society, public institutions and international organizations came together at the Gender Responsive Procurement Summit led by UN Women in Türkiye’s largest city, Istanbul. Organized on October 21, the summit aimed at supporting women's economic empowerment by ensuring women suppliers are more and better engaged in public and private sector supply networks.

21 October - Istanbul. UN Women in partnership with KAGİDER and the Global Compact Türkiye hosted the Gender Responsive Procurement Summit in Istanbul on October 21. The summit created a bustling platform that brought together business leaders, civil society, public institutions, international organizations and women entrepreneurs. Financed by Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the summit offered panels discussions on the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in supply chains and possible solutions to adress them.

The panels also provided private sector leaders like Arçelik, Bant Boru, Hepsiburada, Migros, P&G and Yıldız Holding with a space to present their good practices on gender responsive procurement, including how they support women entrepreneurs and what steps they have taken to increase women’s representation in supply chains.

The summit provided a fruitful environment for the participants to network with each other, to have a stronger awareness of challenges in the procurement ecosystem and to find solutions for those challenges.

In a Public Procurement session, representatives from the Union of Municipalities of Türkiye, the Public Procurement Authority and the State Supply Office discussed how to further support women entrepreneurs in the country.

In her opening speech, Asya Varbanova, UN Women Türkiye Country Director, said: “Thanks to the first Gender Responsive Summit we realize today, we are focusing on a subject which is globally trending. We provide a space for female entrepreneurs, private and public sectors to get together, connect, create and accelerate the joint efforts towards a more gender responsive business environment.”

Emine Erdem, Director of KAGİDER (Turkish Women Entrepreneurs Association) said: “Public tenders make up the largest market in the world; however, female entrepreneurs’ share in this market is only 1%. Problem of accessing to markets is one of the most important global hurdles facing female entrepreneurs. KAGİDER works hard to ensure that women get more share from public and private sector purchasing processes and we remind everyone on every occasion: “Buy from women and let the country win!”

Dilek Cesur, Board Member of Global Compact Network Türkiye said: “Gender responsive procurement is about encouraging gender equality when a private firm opts to apply procurement policies to promote gender equality and support gender responsive social and economic progress at all stages of the supply chain. Nevertheless, many private firms require support as they begin gender responsive procurement. Based on this need, “Decent Work and Supply Chain” guideline is updated with gender responsive procurement title in 2020.”

Peter Ericson, Swedish Consul General of Istanbul said: “Strengthening the rights and opportunities for women and girls is a significant priority for the Swedish Government. That is the reason why we are extremely happy to support UN Women and Gender Responsive Summit today.”

The Gender Responsive Procurement Summit is organized as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO, initated by UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia in 2021. The outputs of the summit will inform the second regional EXPO to be held virtually between 16-17 November 2022.

What is Gender Responsive Procurement?

Gender Responsive Procurement ensures the equal participation of women in the supply chain by considering gender when private and public sectors are purchasing services. In this way, service procurements both support women's economic empowerment and play a key role in ensuring gender equality. Considering that public procurement alone accounts for 12% of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the magnitude of the economic impact of procurement decisions can be better understood. This figure, which is about 6 times the GDP of Türkiye, reveals the importance of women entrepreneurs getting a share from the supply chains of the world. Despite the fact that women own a third of companies worldwide today, only 1% of large firm acquisition budgets reach women entrepreneurs. Supporting women entrepreneurs through gender responsive procurement strengthens development and equality, while offering a more inclusive and sustainable economy model.