Skip to main content

Using data to improve gender equality and fight climate change and corruption in public procurement

One in every three dollars spent by government is on a contract with a company. Public contracting is the world’s largest marketplace, covering $13 trillion of spending every year. Their sheer size gives governments the power to set rules and standards of industry conduct in society, yet many don’t know what they are buying and selling, for how much, when and with whom they are dealing.

According to the World Bank, women-owned small and medium enterprises contribute 20% to the global gross domestic product. Despite the growth of women’s entrepreneurship, the number of businesses getting government contracts is much lower. When an intersectional lens is applied, factors such as race, disability and geography further limit access to public procurement by women-led/women-owned businesses. In Colombia, in terms of total value, only 18% of contracts were awarded to women-led businesses in 2020 even though they represent up to 56% of the supplier base.

Furthermore, global government procurement is responsible for 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The scale and dependability of global government procurement spending makes it a powerful policy instrument for stimulating innovation to address the climate crisis.

Finally, there is huge potential to better showcase and document the benefits of open contracting reforms for anti-corruption. According to the OECD, nearly 60% of foreign bribery cases are in the context of obtaining government contracts. Global procurement and purchasing norms have begun to address accountability, but do not yet include inclusive and sustainable practices.

This project with the Open Contracting Partnership seeks to study and document reforms and innovations as procurement becomes digitized. Specifically, the project will investigate the efficacy of data-driven measures to improve the participation of women-led businesses, sustainability and integrity in several countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia where impacts from previous investments can be scaled.

Project ID
Project Status
24 months
IDRC Officer
Leah Mwai
Total Funding
CA$ 411,900.00
Institution Country
United States
Project Leader
Lindsey Marchessault
Open Contracting Partnership