The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, SALAR, has published a guide on gender procurement, which informs on the legal possibilities of imposing gender equality criteria in public procurement on the one hand and contains practical examples on the other one. While the term gender procurement is often used in a narrow sense, SALAR uses a more comprehensive approach: According to the association the concept of gender procurement revolves around ensuring that all citizens are offered equal services regardless of gender and aims to increase overall efficiency and quality of services.
Public procurement accounts for approximately one fifth of our GDP. By procuring works, goods or services, the state acts as a role model and shapes society and the economy. As it enters into public agreements, the state makes use of public budgets. Therefore, the constitutional duty of gender budgeting applies.
The date of 8 February 2017 marked the kick-off for the consultation phase of a legislative draft on the Austrian Public Procurement Law 2017 (Bundesvergabegesetz) and an amendment of the Austrian Public Procurement Law for Procurement in the field of Defence and Security (Bundesvergabegesetz Verteidigung und Sicherheit). The legislative revision is based on EU directives 2014/23/EU, 2014/24/EU und 2014/25/EU which entered into force on 28 March 2014 and ought to have been transposed into national law by 18 April 2016 (save for some exceptions). So far, only a small amendment has been made to the Public Procurement Law in force (referred to as “small amendment 2015”). The legislative draft now aims to implement European law by adding and revising provisions on:
Public procurement law is an instrument to guarantee effective and transparent competition in public procurement and, as such, it is part of Gender Budgeting. As public procurement has a high significance in terms of GDP (nearly 20% of Austrian and European GDP), a state’s decisions on how to procure have a lasting effect on the economy and on society at large.
The aim of promoting women and gender equality is in line with competition law and art 19 para 6 of the Austrian Public Procurement Law (Bundesvergabgesetz). Following other ministries‘ commitment in this regard, the Ministry of Health and Women’s Affairs has published a circular on integrating measures to promote women and gender equality in public procurement below EUR 100,000 in December 2016. In accordance with this circular, companies are obliged to present or implement measures to promote women and gender equality if they are awarded a contract below EUR 100,000 whose term exceeds or is equal to 6 months. They can choose from a catalogue of four categories (“employment and career advancement”, “qualification”, “reconciliation of work and family life” and “structural measures”), which is an integral part of the circular. The number of measures to be chosen differs according to company size and there are exemptions for very small ones. Also, prove must be given halfway through the term. Click here to access an unofficial English translation of the Declaration of Commitment, inclusive of the Catalogue of Measures that goes with it.
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