About UN Women
In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In doing so, UN Member States took an historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The main roles of UN Women are:
- To support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms.
- To help Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society.
- To lead and coordinate the UN system’s work on gender equality as well as promote accountability, including through regular monitoring of system-wide progress.
UN Women Procurement
UN Women purchases goods and services from suppliers all over the world to support its operational and programmatic activities.
As a UN organization entrusted with donor funds, UN Women aims towards ensuring efficiency, fairness and transparency in their expenditure. Procurement plays a pivotal role to achieve this goal while supporting the UN Women mandate: Promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Structure of the Procurement Team
Procurement at UN Women follows the principle of decentralization, which means that delegation of procurement authority (DOA) has been granted to all UN Women offices in accordance with the UN Women Delegation of Authority Framework.
The UN Women Procurement Section at Headquarters in New York, within the decentralized structure of the procurement function, under the Chief of the Procurement Section, primarily fulfils, the main functions in support of procurement and contracting organization-wide, inter alia, providing strategic support and guidance on all procurement matters, drafting all documents and templates related to the procurement framework as well as overseeing procurement planning and monitoring at UN Women.
Fundamental Principles of procurement
The underlying principles behind the UN Women Procurement process include:
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY: Best value for money in the procurement process means selecting the offer that presents the optimum combination of factors such as: appropriate quality, service, life-cycle costs, environmental and social considerations and other parameters to best meet the stated needs of UN Women.
FAIRNESS, INTEGRITY AND TRANSPARENCY: To achieve best value for money, the procurement process must protect the organization from proscribed practices: fraud, corruption, collusion and other unethical practices. Sound procurement requires the openness of process, complete and accurate records, accountability, and confidentiality.
EFFECTIVE COMPETITION: The objective of competitive processes is to provide all eligible potential contractors with timely and adequate notification of the procurement requirements and an equal opportunity to tender for the required goods, civil works and services.
INTEREST OF UN WOMEN: Undertaking procurement in the interest of UN Women means carrying out procurement activities in the manner that best enables the organization to reach general and specific objectives, while in compliance with applicable procurement procedures.
In 2016, the UN Agencies spent USD 17,7 billion of dollars on the purchase of goods, services and civil works to fulfil its functions. However, only a mere 1 % of the contracts are awarded to women-owned businesses (Vazquez & Sherman, 2013). Women entrepreneurs are a growing economic force. It is estimated that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with full or partial female ownership represent 31-38 percent (8-10 million) of formal SMEs in emerging markets (IFC, 2011). These firms represent a significant share of employment generation and economic growth potential. UN Women believes that procurement can be used as an effective tool to battle gender inequalities and to economically empower women by helping more women-owned businesses to access the procurement market.
Within the UN system, UN Women has a commitment to promote and enable procurement practices that will, over the short, medium to long-term, improve the degree to which UN procurement processes are gender-responsive, so the practice of gender responsive procurement will become a standard component of the UN procurement process.
UN Women shall conduct procurement activities in a gender-conscious manner that drives positive gender equality outcomes, urging vendors to develop and offer goods/works/services that are in line with gender equality objectives. A structured approach to gender responsive procurement starts with integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment considerations into procurement planning, allowing identification of priority areas that will guide UN Women’s approach to gender responsive procurement.
By 2019, UN Women aims to increase the agency’s total procurement contracts awarded to women-owned businesses/vendors by 178 % from its current state in 2016. To reach its goal, UN Women has:
- Implemented mechanisms of preferences as introducing women ownership as a tie-breaker between two or more suppliers that score the same in an evaluation process,
- Updated its Procurement Manual with gender-responsive procurement policies,
- Implemented a mandatory gender profile registration of new vendors in its internal ERP system (ATLAS) that enables classification based on women ownership/control. Such data will also be collected through the solicitation documents, which are currently being updated with gender sections. Classification of women-owned businesses will enable us to track and report progress,
- Amended its “General Conditions of Contract” that requires suppliers to avoid discriminatory practices. This requirement extends to the suppliers’ supply chain both upstream and downstream. UN Women is the first UN Agency that has incorporated gender-responsive procurement provisions in its general terms and conditions of contract,
- Developed a new eProcurement platform that will move the whole procurement process on-line. This will, among other things, enable and facilitate the classification of vendors, collection of data and measurement of progress, as well as simplify the inclusion of more gender-responsive aspects in the procurement process, and
- UN Women drafted a guidance paper on Gender-Responsive Procurement in February 2017 entitled “The Power of Procurement: how to source from women-owned businesses”, and will
- Roll-out and implement an online capacity training and certification programme for women-owned businesses and female buyers in procurement professions through our training partners,
- Partner with women business organization and networks to find women-owned businesses and initiating communication with the media to spread awareness, and
- Invite vendors to become signatories to the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) or to sign the “Voluntary Agreement to Promote Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment” to support the elimination of discriminatory practices against women.
More information about gender-responsive procurement and what UN Women is doing can be found on UNGM’s Knowledge Centre.
Types of solicitations
Used for the procurement of readily available, off-the-shelf goods or standard specification commodities.
- Request for Quotation (RFQ)
Commonly used for the procurement of goods or straightforward services, or civil works that can be locally sourced.
- Request for Proposals (RFP)
Used for procurement of complex services and/or goods, where the desired inputs and/or outputs cannot quantitatively and qualitatively be expressed in sufficient details at the time the invitation is made.
- Invitation to Bid (ITB)
This method is generally used for purchasing goods where the procurement volume promotes open international competition.
The Programme and Operations Manual
The Programme and Operations Manual (POM) underpinned by the Financial Regulations and Rules (UNW/2012/6), the Delegation of Authority Framework and the Internal Control Framework, provides UN Women personnel with a consolidated and clear understanding of internal policies and procedures. The POM is intended to provide guidance on procurement policies and procedures to all employees involved in the various stages of the procurement activities conducted by UN Women in all offices and all locations.
The POM is subject to periodic updating and refinement by the Organization, as and when necessary. UN Women reserves the right to make exceptions to the provisions contained in the POM, if and when necessary, and in the best interests of the Organization.
General terms and conditions
UN Women’s General Terms and Conditions for procurement, as below, are incorporated in all solicitation document and shall form an integral part of any commercial contract awarded by UN Women.
UN’s Supplier Code of Conduct
UN Women’s suppliers and all sub-contractors are required to abide by the UN Supplier Code of Conduct.
Doing Business with UN Women
Common goods and services regularly procured by UN Women can be found on UN Annual Statistic Report accessible from this link https://www.ungm.org/Public/ASR.