Washington, D.C.
April 10, 2023

Gender-Inclusive Public Procurement Reform in the Shadow of War – by Elizabeth A. Vazquez and Gary Linden


Washington, D.C.

Throughout the world, Women-Owned Businesses generally receive less than one percent of total government procurement spending because governments have not prioritized the inclusion of women as suppliers of products and services.

Even in those countries that have made the most progress toward gender equality, public procurement systems continue to be supplied almost exclusively by businesses owned and led by men, including the publicly traded companies.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates the value of global public procurements to be 12 percent of the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which amounts to approximately $13 trillion in 2023. This means that Women-Owned Businesses are missing out on literally trillions of dollars in potential revenue each year.

In 2022, the Government of Moldova understood the need to prioritize gender equality—in a country that was already one of the world’s leaders on equality—by seeking to develop gender-inclusive public procurement. It requested assistance from WEConnect International, a global nonprofit advancing inclusive trade and women’s economic empowerment globally, through funding from the US Department of Commerce.

In response, WEConnect International provided the Government of Moldova with a locally contextualized framework for advancing gender equality, including better public procurement policies, processes, guidelines, and training to help ensure many more local women-owned businesses compete for Government procurement opportunities.

There was just one big problem.  The war in Ukraine had massive spillover effects on Moldova.  Over 750,000 refugees entered Moldova, the electricity and natural gas supplies to the country were at risk, and Moldovans faced the distinct possibility of being directly drawn into the Russia-Ukraine war.  This combination of external and internal pressures led to the resignation of the entire Moldovan Government in early 2023.

Because the challenges are significant and urgent, we are confident that the vision for gender equality through inclusive public procurement will remain a priority for the Government of Moldova, and WEConnect International stands ready to help ensure everyone in the country has an equal opportunity to deliver solutions.


About WEConnect International

WEConnect International is a global non-profit that brings motivated, large corporate, multilateral, and government buyers together with qualified women-owned suppliers around the world. Its member buyers represent over US$3 trillion in combined annual purchasing power, and they have committed to sourcing more products and services from women-owned businesses based in over 140 countries. WEConnect International identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women’s business enterprises that are at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women. WEConnect International provides Women’s Business Enterprise certification in over 55 countries that represent 70% of the world’s population. https://weconnectinternational.org/