Corruption has been high on the governance reform policy for many decades. It constrains development, and cause conflict and definitely one of the biggest obstacles to achieving millennium development goals, if it is not vehemently checked with absolute determination, it will hinder greatly the attainment of sustainable development goals. Corruption has a well known differential impact on the society with poor people especially women as its greatest victim, it reduces resources for poverty alleviation and development which result in deprivation of advancement opportunities for poor people. Unfortunately, sufficient attention has not been paid to differing impact that corruption had on women. Unaddressed questions include;
- Do women suffer fromcorruption than men?
- Do women face differentforms of corruption than men?
- Do answers to thisquestions support changes in anti-corruption agenda and advocacy strategies?
This article examines the correlation between gender andaccountability and corruption, and as well proffer insight that address theabove stated questions.
- Do women suffer from corruption than men? Development and aid agencies have only begun to conductresearch and inquire into the relationship between gender equality issues andcorruption in the last twelve (12) years, due to emergence of evidence thatcorruption can disproportionately affect poor women and girls, particularly intheir access to essential public services, justice and security and in theircapacity to engage in public decision making. One reason for corruption’sdisproportionately negative impact on women is because women form the majorityof the global poor. The poor, reliant on publicly provided services,disproportionately suffer when corruption depletes the amount of resources tothese services (Schimmel and Pech 2004 Khadragha 2001). In a situation wherebribery has become a prerequisite to accessing services, rights and resources,women’s relatively weaker access to and control of personal resources has meantthat, they are more frequently denied access to these services. Women’sstatistically lower literary level, which often result in relative lack ofknowledge of rights and entitlements to services and public programs, leavesthem more vulnerable to extortion and abuse of laws (UNNDP 2008A). However,evidence of the incident and cost of corruption to women and poor women inparticular is rare; only about one fifth of the tools commonly used to measurecorruption explicitly take gender and poverty into consideration (TransparencyInternation 2005).
There are four commonly used and internationallyaccepted corruption measurement tools, all of which are gender blind; noneinclude gender (or sex) as a relevant element. The tools are:
- Public Opinion Surveys(Methods to measure perception of corruption such as the ‘Afrobarometer’, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index)
- Public-Sector Diagnostics (studies that measure strengthand weakness of various governance institutions, sometimes based on citizensperception data.)
- Private sector survey(studies of Bribery in private firms)
- Multi-country tools(ranking of countries according to how the fare in addressing corruption, usingboth perception data and the presence or absence of law against corruption suchas the new partnership for African development’s African Peer Reviewmechanisms. (UNDP 2008).
New indicator are needed to capture the genderdimension of corruption, developed and used at the national level. This couldbe generated easily using existing data source to capture the specificexperiences of poorer groups of women and men. For example, an indicator suchas Level of trust in the police, easily measured using a household survey,could be made gender-sensitive by adding questions about respondent’s sex andeconomic status. (UNDP)
Localstake holders can also use Citizen’s Report Card (CRC) to capture the incidence of corruption on women and othergroup. CRC, gather experience based data to determine the percentage of service users that encounter corruption or to determine theaverage bribe paid. Disaggregating this information by sex or income level willgive a clearer picture of how women and men differ in the average amount ofbribe paid or requested and the frequency in which they encounter corruption.CRC merely reports on where corruption has occurred with the expectation thatpublic authorities will rectify the situation (Goetz and Jenkins 1999)
- Do women face differentforms of corruption than men? Dependingon the extent of government’s failure to be accountable to women citizens,corruption may impact women access to public services and resources in variousways such as barriers to accessing basic public services, sexual extortion,reduction of women’s access to market and credit and reinforcement of women’ssocial and economic marginalization.
Women’s dependence on publicservices means that corruption can have the debilitating impact on their lives.For example, case study evidence shows that poor women are often forced to paybribes to public services providers in health, education, judiciary, etc. Forexample, in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, government policy has it that medicalservices for pregnant women is free at public hospitals, unfortunately, healthpersonnel are reliably noted for demanding for bribes from pregnant womenbefore they can access such health services. In judiciary, official fees foraffidavit is within the range of N10.00 to N200.00, but personnel at judiciaryusually ask for the amount in excess of N2,000.00. In Educational sector, cases of sexual extortion are reportedly going on in secondary school and tertiaryinstitutions, particularly the university. For example, report has it that teachers and lecturers respectively tend to ask femalestudent for sex before they can passtheir exams or be made to fail the exam.
Corruption in the businessregulation sector affects women entrepreneur assess to market and credit.Ironically, women’s remoteness from some anti-corruption network reinforces their social and economicmarginalization. In addition to other barriers women may face as entrepreneurs,corruption imposes restriction on the ability to conduct businesses. Onerous “speedmoney” payment can allow entrepreneurs to by-pass regulations for obtaining business license or evadecomplex legal requirements for forming a company – yet women often lack theresources necessary to make this payment like information about business servicesavailable or knowledge of the means of negotiating against corrupt networks (Ellis andBlackdem 2006). This marginalization has implication for women’s perception andawareness of corruption and engagement on anti-corruption effort.
- Do women and menperceive corruption differently? Transparency Internationalglobal corruption barometer, whichcompiles public opinion survey fromapproximately 54,000 individuals in 69 countries, asks citizens how corruptionaffects their lives and business. Responses are scored according to people’sperception of corruption in public services and political, judiciary and market institution(transparency Internation 2005) UNIFEM 2008 analysis of this dataexplore gender differences inperception and found a statistically significantdifferences between women and men in almost all regions of the worldwith women generally perceiving higher level of corruption than men.Differences in perception are almost significant in the areas of servicesprovision notably for education, medical services and utilities. Evidence supportthe findings that women may perceive the problems of corruption to be moreacute than men do. Analyzing the gender differences in individual data aboutaccountability of different forms of corruption, Swamy et al (2000) concludes that there is aworldwide gender differences in tolerance for corruption.
SUGGESTED STRATEGIES TO CHECK CORRUPTION IN ADDRESSING GENDER EQUALITY & ACCOUNTABILITY
- Application of the ruleof law in advancing rights and providing protections from abuse can be enhanced by countries domesticaccountability systems to prosecute perpetration of corruptions, gender equalities must be ensured to enhance protection of women’s civil and political rightthrough access to fair trail particularly for gender based offences.
- Access to decision-making,including women’s political participation in governance. Debate about therelationship between gender and corruption in politics often focus on whetherhaving more women in public office curbs corruption. Those that support thistheory argue that women are less prone to corruption because they are eitherinnately or socialized to be less corrupt than men. In Nigeria, high profileefforts to appoint women to senior government position have been framed interms of tackling grand corruption. Corruption in the country’s mining industryand food and drug Association also reportedly declined under the leadership ofwomen in both instances (ABA – UNDP 2008). Situationwhere political parties lack internaldemocratic mechanism, candidate are often selected on the basis of theirability to mobilize patrons particularly male network for resources needed tofinance an election. Women attempting to enter politics may face demand for sexfrom male party member in exchange for opportunities to run for offices, asexual form of corruption or extortion that women are more likely to encounterthan men. (Goetz 2007, Iwanaga 2005).
Similarly, candidate withaccess to money and power typically men have the advantage of being able tobribe voters directly with food, cash and clothing. These are evidences thatindicate that corruption blocks women’s access to politics in both parliamentand public offices. In order to encourage women’s participation in politics anddecision making. Political parties must have a clear stand out mechanism forinternal democracy. There must be a statutory law and constitutional provisionfor women participation in politics which will check men’s capacity to dominate politicalparticipation thereby sustaining women’s increase in politics.
- UNDP Global ThematicPrograms on Anti-corruption for development effectiveness: Entry points ongender and corruption
- Advisory support forcapacity development of government stakeholders on integrating gender intoanti-corruption interventions, activities, national plans and strategies.
- Support to developgender-disaggregated, nationally-owned corruption measurement and diagnostictools.
- Development ofmethodology to incorporate both anti-corruption and gender issue in developmentprocess such as United Nation Development Assistance framework and SDG-baseddevelopment strategies, and poverty reduction strategy papers.
- Capacity Development ofCivil Society and media, such as supporting community level women’s movement(e.g. Women Journalists Network and women network against corruption.
- Gender balanced,awareness-raisingcampaign against corruption.
- Development anddissemination of knowledge products on how corruption affects women and mendifferently (e.g. corruption in service delivery)
A common theme across all approaches is the needfor more information on how corruption affect different social groups. Thisarticle has demonstrated that corruption is not gender-neutral in its effect,and much is revealed about women’s relationship to accountability andcorruption by an analysis of their experience with corruption, much is revealedabout the pragmatic means of combating corruption which recognize that womenhave a great deal to contribute to improving the quality of governance andeffectiveness of public accountability.