Women’s empowerment and corruption prevention can go hand-in-hand | Magdy Martinez-Soliman

17 Apr 2014

woman riding bicycle A woman in India with a state-allotted bicycle that had been denied her without explanation. UNDP helped members of her community learn about their legal rights, empowering them to secure their entitlements, like bicycles. (Photo: Shubhangi Singh/UNDP India)

A recent discussion at the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women initiated by UNDP and partners highlighted what an asset grass-roots women’s organisations can be in the fight against corruption in their communities. The discussion was based on country stories about how women-led strategies strengthened transparency and accountability, leading to prevention of corruption.

By way of background, UNDP funds and supports a programme in partnership with the Huairou Commission (a global network of grassroots women’s organisations) that so far has mobilized 2,300 community members and trained more than 500 people on social accountability strategies in Brazil, Nepal, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Uganda.

Not only did women lead anti-corruption initiatives, their involvement also reaped important gender equality gains. For example, in less than a year, the programme yielded results that speak for themselves: in the town of Jinja in Uganda, because of women’s collective fight for land rights, 35 women received land deeds in their names, and 120 women are in the process of obtaining these deeds. In Brazil, since the start of the programme, 3,000 land deeds were granted to women as rightful owners.

Corruption is not gender-neutral. For example, in many developing countries, women are often the victims of corruption in land titling processes. Through the programme and country level projects, empowered women have been able to strengthen anti-corruption actions by mobilizing themselves to monitor and raise awareness of corruption threats in the land titling processes and build trust between communities and government officials, resulting in higher participation, transparency and accountability. Gender empowerment has proven more effective as opposed to “gender-blind” approaches in the fight against corruption.

One major challenge, however, is the lack of systematic identification and prioritization of gender dimensions in corruption-prone sectors. Another area that needs urgent attention is to take into account grassroots women’s experiences and strategies when developing and implementing anti-corruption policies at the global and national levels.

The evidence makes a strong case for the role of organized and empowered women as “game-changers” in their communities in the fight against corruption. The development community should respond positively to their call for action and support.

Talk to us: How can we bring gender empowerment to the centre of anti-corruption efforts and vice-versa?

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