Promoting Gender Equality Through Procurement

Understanding Gender Disparities in NGO Supply Chains

Most international NGOs and humanitarian organizations aim to integrate gender equality and social justice into their core missions. However, gender inequality often persists within their supply chains, from procurement to distribution. This imbalance not only contradicts their principles but also diminishes the overall impact of their initiatives.

The Challenge of Underrepresentation

A significant challenge is the underrepresentation of women-owned businesses in procurement processes. Despite being equally capable, these enterprises face hurdles like limited access to finance and markets, restricting their ability to secure contracts with large NGOs. This exclusion reinforces gender bias and limits economic opportunities for women in the business sector.

Exploitation in Labor-Intensive Industries

Industries such as agriculture and manufacturing, crucial to NGO supply chains, are prone to exploiting female workers. Women are often found in precarious, low-wage jobs with scant prospects for advancement, undermining human rights and the goals of development projects.

Repercussions Beyond Economic Disparities

The effects of gender inequality in supply chains extend beyond economic issues, affecting the effectiveness of aid and the well-being of communities. Excluding women from economic opportunities and decision-making leads to solutions that lack inclusivity and sustainability.

Strategies for Change

1. Prioritizing Women-Owned Businesses

Adopting procurement policies that favor women-owned enterprises can counteract systemic barriers. Support measures like capacity building and access to finance are vital for empowering women entrepreneurs.

2. Gender-Responsive Supply Chain Practices

A thorough gender analysis of supply chains can unveil disparities. Addressing issues related to labor conditions and opportunities for women within supplier networks is crucial for fostering gender equality.

3. Gender-Sensitive Training and Education

Training staff, suppliers, and partners on gender equality and empowerment is essential for creating an inclusive culture within the organization’s supply chain.

4. Involving Women in Decision-Making

Ensuring women’s participation in procurement and supply chain management is key to incorporating their insights and achieving equitable solutions.

5. Effective Monitoring and Evaluation

Establishing mechanisms to monitor gender equality goals within supply chains helps identify improvement areas and assess the impact of gender-focused interventions.


Integrating a gender lens into procurement policies can catalyze positive change, aligning your organization’s spending with its mission for a fairer world. This approach not only benefits your organization and communities involved but also contributes to a broader movement towards social justice gender equality through procurement practices.