Imposing requirements on Gender Equality in public procurement contracts

The Basque institute for Women (EMAKUNDE) has published a guide on how to set requirements favouring gender equality in public contracts and grants. The guide was elaborated by an interagency group in which the Association of Basque Municipalities (EUDEL) also participated. 


By providing information about the legal framework, arguments to why it is important and how it can be beneficial for all actors, examples of good practices, recommendations etc., the guide offers extensive information and contributes to raise awareness on the topic.


Although women and men have equal rights legally, statistics show that gender equality is far from achieved. The guide highlights the significant role that local authorities can play in this regard and underlines the importance of promoting equality in of its all activities and policies. Including gender equality as a prerequisite in public procurement contracts is an effective instrument that public authorities can use to advance social change and promote equality.


Practically this can be done either by promoting positive actions or by including gender mainstreaming. Positive actions means putting in place temporary measures aiming to compensate for previous inequalities or discrimination of disadvantaged groups, given that it is reasonable and proportionate to the objective pursued in each case. Gender mainstreaming means improving, developing and evaluating political processes in such a way that the gender perspective is included in all areas at all levels. The strength of gender mainstreaming is that it endorses the inclusion of a gender perspective in the public policies and thereby creates a solid knowledge within organizations generating good governance. 


The guide also brings up possible obstacles and difficulties in implementing equality requirements, such as lack of political will or fear of complaints from private companies. Resistance can be due to lack of knowledge of the benefits this type of clauses can generate but also lack of technical knowledge on how to introduce these types of clauses.  


To overcome these types of problems, the guide underlines the need to raise awareness on Corporate Social Responsibility issues, to analyse previous experiences and highlight good practices. This could be done through organizing workshops, providing technical training; elaborating guides and provides models for equality-clauses. Another thing could be to involve women organizations or associations active in equality-work.


There are a number of benefits and comparative advantages of promoting equality issues presented in the guide. Companies applying social policies concurrently improve quality of their processes. Its usefulness is therefore not limited to contributing to achieving a more just and egalitarian society but also to improving services and productivity of their own organization.


The guide also makes a reference to a publication developed by the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities in 2010 called “Buying Social – A Guide to Taking Account of Social Considerations in Public Procurement”.