Do we need women-specific anti-corruption projects?

Do we need women-specific anti-corruption projects?

For decades, gender sensitivity has been part of project design in a range of international development and assistance programmes, including anti-corruption efforts. The concept simply acknowledges that different policies and programmes have differing impacts on men and on women.

But has enough been done to make programme design practices gender-sensitive? And do we need women-specific anti-corruption projects?

Is corruption different for men and women?

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Huairou Commission (a coalition of grassroots women’s organisations) launched a joint study at the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference in 2012. “Seeing Beyond the State: Grassroots Women’s Perspectives in Corruption and Anti-Corruption” shows that women perceive corruption differently from men, are affected by corruption differently than men, and act against corruption differently than men. The study also finds that women – especially at the grassroots level – are disproportionately and harder hit by corruption than men.

Recently, Transparency International chapters from Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Pakistan, Rwanda and Zimbabwe discussed these disparities in a tele-conference. These chapters had all noticed that women generally engage less in their anti-corruption activities than men.

Impediments to engaging women in anti-corruption

Woman in Uganda

The six Transparency International chapters shared their experiences and challenges in reaching out to women. They also identified some reasons that engaging women in anti-corruption efforts has proven difficult.

They point to a range of interconnecting causes, from traditional beliefs to marginalisation and poverty, which impede women’s full participation.

These include:

Ways to get women involved in the fight against corruption

The six participating chapters agreed that there are solutions to many of these challenges. Some are emerging, some are already being used by our chapters.

Rwanda gender report cover

Examples from our chapters

Transparency International Rwanda: Following complaints received by our Rwandan chapter’s legal advice centre, the chapter carried out a study – Gender Based Corruption in Workplaces in Rwanda – which confirmed that women faced special forms of corruption in many types of employment. The study’s recommendations formed the basis of the chapter’s ongoing advocacy campaigns, which address women in cities and institutions around the country and through national and community radio stations.

Transparency International Zimbabwe works with women through its legal advice centres in Harare and Bulawayo and its Community Mobilisation and Advocacy project. They look at ‘women and corruption’ from two angles: women as perpetrators, and women as victims and witnesses. The Zimbabwean chapter’s outreach to women involves the creation of monitoring committees for women partnering with community-based women’s organisations, and a sectoral approach through targeted advocacy in issues close to women’s interest, like education.

Reasons to make anti-corruption projects women-specific

The six Transparency International chapters concluded their recent discussion with a determination to make certain anti-corruption projects more women-specific, for multiple reasons:

Image from the workshop in Accra

If corruption is endemic in society – as it is in most African countries, as the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 shows – we need to engage women more effectively through targeted approaches in the fight against corruption.

Toward that end, this week nine Transparency International chapters in Africa were joined by other civil society organisations for a workshop aimed at better engaging women and youth in their everyday work. The gathering in Accra, Ghana included representatives of our chapters in Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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