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Finding a voice, seeking justice: The barriers women face to reporting corruption in the European Union

Global research on the linkages between gender and corruption reveals that women perceive and experience corruption differently from men. They are disproportionately affected by the impact of corruption on the quality and quantity of public services available to them; as primary carers of children and the elderly, women are more reliant on public services and more likely to be a victim of corruption when accessing services, such as health care or education.

They are also particularly vulnerable to sexual extortion – or sextortion – where sex is the currency of the bribe. This violates human rights and dignity, and disproportionately targets women, with serious – sometimes life-changing – consequences.

Yet, although they are more vulnerable to the impact of corruption, women are less likely than men to challenge corrupt practices, report corruption and access justice.

There is limited evidence and data exploring the linkages between gender and corruption in the European Union (EU). In 2021, as part of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB), Transparency International surveyed more than 40,000 people in the 27 EU countries on their perceptions and experiences of corruption. We also gather data from our Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres (ALACs), which provide free and confidential legal advice to witnesses and victims of corruption.

This gender analysis of GCB and ALAC data provides unique insight into how women in the EU experience corruption in their daily lives and the challenges they face when they speak up against it. To address these challenges, the paper has recommendations for governments, anti-corruption practitioners and researchers.