India’s national public procurement portal, that is the Government e-Marketplace (GeM), has launched an initiative to enable women entrepreneurs and women self-help groups (WSHGs) to sell handmade crafts, home décor, and jute products, among others, directly to Government ministries, departments and institutions.
The Government-owned eMarketplace functions under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for the procurement of common use goods and services by ministries, departments and central public sector enterprises (CPSEs).
Established in 2016, it has 731,431 product categories, with 180,862 registered sellers and 32,114 government buyers. Since inception, the GeM has processed over 1.1 million orders worth about US $239 million (IN ₹ 16,976 crores) in gross merchandise value.
In a press release, the Ministry said that the ‘Womaniya on GeM’ initiative seeks to develop women entrepreneurship to support gender-inclusive economic growth.
According to the CEO of GeM, nearly 80% of women-owned establishments are self-financed and more than 60% of 8 million units are owned or led by women entrepreneurs from socially-challenged sections of society.
Since women tend to invest up to 90% of their earnings back into their families, to provide nutrition, healthcare and education, economic empowerment for women is a step in the direction of poverty alleviation for the country.
On the Womaniya homepage, products like handicrafts, handlooms, accessories, jute and coir products, and home décor and office furnishings are categorised for ease-in-procurement. The release said that the initiative is in line with the Government’s initiatives for MSMEs, specifically to reserve 3% of procurement from women entrepreneurs.
India has approximately 500 million Internet users. Almost 54% of them are over the age of 25, with higher discretionary incomes and are more likely to purchase things online. Almost 50% of internet users reside in small towns and present new opportunities for e-commerce. Women account for 33% (143 million) of Indian Internet users and control 44% of household spending in the country.
The release said that Womaniya on GeM will spur hyper-local economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs and address the goals and objectives under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
This is one out of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals that are a part of the UN General Assembly’s Resolution: “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
According to the UN website, gender equality by 2030 requires urgent action to eliminate the root causes of discrimination that still curtail women’s rights in private and public spheres. Women do 2.6 times more unpaid care and domestic work than men. While families, societies and economies depend on this work, for women, it leads lower earnings and less time to engage in non-work activities. In addition to the equal distribution of economic resources, which is not only a right but accelerates development in multiple areas, there needs to be a fair balance of responsibility for unpaid care work between men and women.