UN Women

Circular Economy Expert (International Consultant)

UN Women

Job Description

  UN Women, grounded in the vision of equality enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, works for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls; the empowerment of women; and the achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, Humanitarian Action and peace, and security.

The world is being adversely impacted by the consequences of the coronavirus (Covid-19) with an unprecedented economic downturn that is felt not only by all segments of populations but also has strong gender implications. It is becoming obvious that the labor market and economies including the global supply chains are heavily affected, leading to worldwide business disruptions.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only putting an unprecedented and significant strain on the global economy and public health systems, but is also highlighting, and magnifying inequalities and the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women and girls. The pandemic has moved beyond a global health crisis and has morphed into a labor market, social and economic crisis, posing a serious threat to women’s employment and livelihoods, especially in precarious informal and non-essential sectors. This is particularly consequential for the Arab States, where gender gaps are among the widest compared to the rest of the world.

Globally, the pandemic will likely push 47 million more women and girls below the poverty line. The Arab region’s economy is expected to contract by at least 5.7% and the ranks of the poor are estimated to rise by 14.3 million people, swelling to more than 115 million. That is one-quarter of the total Arab population.

The pandemic has turned the world of work upside down. It is having a dramatic effect on the jobs, livelihoods, and well-being of workers and their families and on enterprises across the globe, particularly the small and medium-sized. While certain sectors and industries have successfully moved online, pointing the way towards exciting innovations in the world of work, small and medium-sized enterprises – the engine of the regional economy and major employers of women – are suffering immensely and many may not recover.

In a region where 14.3 million people were already unemployed, the ILO estimated losses in the equivalent of 17 million full-time jobs in the second quarter of 2020. With the largest gender gap in human development in the world, women in the Arab region suffer significant consequences of the pandemic. Women earn on average 78.9% percent less than men on a per capita basis and they stand to lose 700,000 jobs particularly in the informal sector where 61.8 percent of female workers are employed and lack social protection nets. Other estimates from June 2020 anticipated that women would bear 41% of job losses in the Arab world, even though they constitute no more than around 19% of the workforce. Yet, much of the emerging response to the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis has so far been mostly gender blind, not addressing the varying needs of women and men.

In the current context, it is vital to adopt short and longer-term solutions to mitigate economic losses and the adverse impact on women’s livelihoods during the pandemic in order to position them for economic recovery during and in the aftermath of the pandemic. In the short term, it is critical to stabilize economic losses of women during the pandemic, protect their employment where possible and reconcile their work obligations with the increased burden of care work at home due to closed schools and caring for the sick and elderly. It is also vital to recognize the role of women in the immediate response as part of the economic solutions. For the longer term, it is essential to establish and strengthen macroeconomic policies and accelerate gender-inclusive decision-making that channel resources to those most impacted by the crisis and provide social and economic recovery support and other productive resources in the economy in order to benefit women and girls. In policy-making during such crises, the opportunity to eliminate discriminatory norms and laws on women’s equal participation should be seized, so that both men and women reinvigorate the economy.

In the efforts to rebuild in the aftermath of COVID-19, important opportunities must be seized to set regional economies in the Arab states on a trajectory that is growth-oriented, environmentally sustainable, and socially inclusive, particularly with respect to empowering women economically. The circular economy is globally recognized as an economic model that is not only environmentally sustainable and in respect of planetary boundaries, but also socially inclusive and with the potential to generate decent jobs and income for underrepresented and disadvantaged groups. Within the efforts to build back better, gender equality must be at the core of promoting a circular economy that is low-carbon, resilient and sustainable. This transition must build on addressing the gender equality commitments.

Therefore, stimulating the adoption of gender-responsive circular economic models in the Arab states is of high importance in the quest to build back better and build back greener in the aftermath of the COVID-19 socioeconomic crisis. In this regard, UN Women & ILO, UNEP, and UNDP in the Arab States are setting out to explore the potential or circular economy in the region as an opportunity for the economic advancement of women in the region.

Duties and Responsibilities

Reporting to the UN Women Programme Management Specialist and working in close cooperation with the UN Women ROAS Women’s Economic Empowerment team, ILO, UNEP, and UNDP regional offices, respective UN agency country offices, and other partners as needed, the consultant will: Develop a study on gender-responsive circular economy for the Arab states, containing the following elements: 

  • A brief overview of the concept of circular economy and its general benefits, particularly in terms of its potential for the creation of decent jobs, with a focus on disadvantaged groups;
  • A Mapping of circular economy initiatives & emerging practices in the Arab region, on the production side of the market, and comparing with selected, acknowledged good global practices. The mapping should apply a variety of data sourcing, including web research, desk review of relevant documents, discussions with key stakeholders in the region, etc.;
  • Identification/stakeholder mapping of the key (I)NGOs players, champion businesses & industries, Arab and other finance actors, and cities & local governments that are undertaking circular economy action at the local and community level;
  • Based on the mapping conducted and discussion with the key partners in terms of the criteria applied, synthesize emerging good practices, identify promising and scalable initiatives (incl. policy interventions), and lessons learned, particularly with regards to the aspect of gender-responsive decent work & income creation and Economic Development.;
  • Propose gender-responsive production-side circular economy models for the Arab states, and assess the feasibility of applying such models, including in terms of key barriers present, the investment needed (financial, human resources, etc.), as well as quantifying the gains from moving towards circular economy models, where the availability of data allows. Identify entry points and propose recommendations for investing in a circular economy in the region;
  • All the aforementioned findings should be presented in a study of around 30 pages, presented to and discussed with the key partners: UN Women, UNEP, UNDP, ILO. Subsequently, based on the discussion and feedback, finalize the study, and receive endorsement by UN Women in consultation with the key partners.
Based on the findings of the mapping study and discussions with key partners in the region, develop a project concept note of 6-to-8 pages for an UN-led programme on gender-responsive circular economy (production side) as a means of post-COVID-19 recovery and generating sustainable growth, with a key pillar on women’s economic empowerment, to be piloted in at least two countries in the Arab region. The concept note should contain a context and needs Analysis, key programmatic entry points & interventions to be implemented, an overview of key expected results, as well as key partners in the process (such as relevant ministries, public agencies, UN, CSOs, private sector, etc.). The concept note will be designed to contribute to the advancement of the SDG5 on gender equality, SDG8 on decent work and Economic Growth, and SDG12 on responsible consumption and production. Subsequently, based on the discussion and feedback, finalize the concept note, and receive endorsement by UN Women in consultation with the key partners.

  • A draft study containing all elements described in the section “Description of Responsibilities” developed, presented to, and discussed with key partners, including through ongoing discussions during the drafting of the study.
31 July 2021
  • Finalized study, reviewed based on feedback received, and subsequently validated by UN Women in consultation with its partners.
31 August 2021
  • A draft concept note for the gender-responsive circular economy programme in the Arab states, embedding women’s economic empowerment, developed and discussed with the key partners.
15 September 2021
  • Finalized concept note, reviewed based on feedback received, and validated by UN Women in consultation with its partners.
30 September 2021


Core Values

  • Respect for Diversity;
  • Integrity;
  • Professionalism.
Core Competencies

  • Awareness and Sensitivity Regarding Gender Issues;
  • Accountability;
  • Creative Problem Solving;
  • Effective Communication;
  • Inclusive Collaboration;
  • Stakeholder Engagement;
  • Leading by Example.
Please visit this link for more information on UN Women’s Core Values and Competencies:https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/about%20us/employment/un-women-values-and-competencies-framework-en.pdf?la=en&vs=637 Functional Competencies

  • Excellent knowledge of women´s economic empowerment;
  • Ability to synthesize research and draw a conclusion on the related subjects;
  • Commitment to accomplish work;
  • Ability to meet deadlines and responds positively to critical feedback;
  • Strong knowledge of the region;
  • Excellent networking skills;
  • Ability to perform qualitative and quantitative policy research;
  • Excellent analytical skills.

Required Skills and Experience


  • Master’s degree or equivalent in economics, environmental sciences, sustainable development, social sciences, or other relevant fields.

  •  At least 7 years of demonstrated work experience in sustainable development, green economic growth, economic development is required;
  • Subject-matter knowledge of specifics and trends in circular economy and experience with circular economy initiatives is required;
  • Knowledge of specifics and trends on women’s economic empowerment is an asset;
  • Experience working with the UN is an asset;
  • Experience working in the Arab region is an asset.
Language Requirements

  • Knowledge of fluent spoken and written English is required;
  • Working knowledge of the Arabic language is considered an asset.
Evaluation Criteria

Individual consultants will be evaluated based on the following methodology: Only candidates obtaining a minimum of 49 points in the technical evaluation would be considered for the financial evaluation.

Criteria Weight

Technical: 70% (70 points)

  • Criteria 1: Master’s degree or equivalent in economics, environmental science, sustainable development, gender studies, social sciences, or other relevant fields; (10 points)
  • Criteria 2: At least 7 years of demonstrated work experience in sustainable development, green economic growth, economic development is required; (25 points)
  • Criteria 3: Subject-matter knowledge of specifics and trends in circular economy and experience with circular economy initiatives is required; (15 points)
  • Criteria 4: Knowledge of specifics and trends on women’s economic empowerment is an asset; (5 points)
  • Criteria 5: Experience working with the UN is an asset; (5 points)
  • Criteria 6: Experience working in the Arab region is an asset; (5 points)
  • Criteria 7: Knowledge of fluent spoken and written English is required. Working knowledge of the Arabic language is considered an asset. (5 points)
Financial: Lowest Financial Proposal: 30% (30 points)

The points for the Financial Proposal will be allocated as per the following formula:
  • The contract will be awarded to the technically qualified consultant who obtains the highest combined score (financial and technical);
  • The points for the Financial Proposal will be allocated as per the following formula: (Lowest Bid Offered*)/ (Bid of the Consultant) x 30;
  • 'Lowest Bid Offered' refers to the lowest price offered by Offerors scoring at least 49 points in the technical evaluation.

Interested Individual Consultants must submit the following documents/information to demonstrate their qualifications:
  • A cover letter with a brief presentation of your consultancy explaining your suitability for the work or link to the portfolio of work;
  • UN Women Personal History form (P-11) which can be downloaded from http://www.unwomen.org/about-us/employment;
  • Personal CV; and Financial proposal; Proposed all-inclusive cost per each deliverable outlined in this TOR.
The above-mentioned documents should be merged in a standalone file including all of them since the online application submission does only permit to upload of one file per application. Incomplete submission can be a ground for disqualification.


In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The creation of UN Women came about as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact. It merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system (DAW, OSAGI, INSTRAW, and UNIFEM), which focused exclusively on gender equality and women's empowerment.

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