International NGOs and humanitarian organizations, pivotal in driving sustainable development and gender equality, are increasingly recognizing procurement as a strategic tool. The procurement process, encompassing the acquisition of goods, works, and services, is fundamental to the operations of these organizations. While some have begun incorporating social considerations into their procurement policies, the concept of gender-responsive procurement, deeply aligned with procurement strategies and policies, is gaining momentum.

Gender-responsive procurement is a deliberate approach that incorporates gender dynamics throughout the procurement process, from planning and sourcing to contract management and evaluation. It acknowledges the distinct needs, preferences, and challenges of women, men, and gender-diverse individuals. This ensures procurement activities not only support but actively promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and aligning with organizational strategies and international guidelines.

Key Aspects of Gender-Responsive Procurement

Alignment with mission and mandate

For NGOs and humanitarian organizations with a focus on human rights, social justice, and sustainable development, gender equality is typically central to their mission. By embedding gender-responsive procurement practices, these entities ensure operational strategies are in harmony with their core values. This approach guarantees every organizational facet systematically contributes to gender equality and the empowerment of marginalized groups, thus enhancing project effectiveness and aligning with global goals.

Enhancement of impact and effectiveness

Implementing a gender-responsive procurement strategy bolsters the effectiveness and impact of NGO and humanitarian projects. By catering to the diverse needs of women, men, and marginalized communities, organizations can maximize the benefits of their interventions, promoting broader social inclusion and equity.

Mitigation of gender-based risks and vulnerabilities

Particularly in conflict, post-conflict, and emergency settings, women and girls face increased risks. Gender-responsive procurement allows organizations to pinpoint and mitigate these risks by prioritizing goods and services that bolster the safety, well-being, and security of women and girls. This includes gender-specific shelter materials, menstrual hygiene products, and healthcare services, thereby contributing to the mitigation of gender-based risks and vulnerabilities.

Strengthening of partnerships and collaboration

Adopting gender-responsive procurement practices cultivates partnerships with local women’s groups, gender-focused initiatives, and women-owned enterprises. This collaboration not only fosters economic empowerment but also builds local capacities and ensures women and marginalized communities have a say in decision-making processes, thereby fostering partnerships and collaboration.

Alignment with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Gender-responsive procurement is integral to achieving SDGs, especially Goal 5 (Gender Equality). By integrating gender equality considerations into procurement practices, organizations contribute to SDG 5 and support related goals like poverty eradication, quality education, and economic growth, ensuring a holistic approach to sustainable development and social inclusion.


Gender-responsive procurement is not just about compliance; it’s a strategic decision that supports sustainable development, enhances project effectiveness, and drives mission fulfillment. By adopting this approach, NGOs can catalyze positive change, empowering women and marginalized groups towards a more equitable and inclusive world.