Nigeria, Germany, Sweden Hold Debate On Gender And Corruption At COSP9

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Lilian Ekeanyanwu

Nigeria, Germany and Sweden on Thursday gathered anti-corruption and gender experts to debate on how corruption involves and affects men and women differently.

The discussion took place on the 3rd day of the ongoing session of the Conference of States Parties of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt,

One of the key panelists at the session, Ms. Lilian Ekeanyanwu, Head of the Technical Unit on Governance and Anticorruption Reforms (TUGAR) Nigeria pointed out “the limited research on gender and corruption give strong indications of divergent experiences and disproportionate impact of corruption on women in relation to men.”

Presenting some of the findings from the UNODC Gender and Corruption in Nigeria Study, Ms. Ekeanyanwu highlighted that 35% of men and 24% of women who came into contact with a public official between July 2018 and June 2019 ended up being requested and, in most cases, paid a bribe.

Consistent with what occurs in other countries, women seemed to experience corruption differently, and sometimes more drastically than men. Women, in particular, young women and girls are also subject to sextortion when their bodies become the means of payment.

While the prevalence of this particularly insidious form of corruption was more complex to establish due to the related stigma, the report found that close to 70% of the respondents, both women and men thought that sextortion was either very or fairly frequent. Most revealing, however, were the findings relating to the likelihood of male vs. female public officials engaging in bribe-seeking behaviour. Taking into account the existing gender gap in most public institutions, the data clearly indicated that female public officials are consistently less likely to engage in corruption than their male counterparts.

Ms. Monika Bauhr, Associate Professor, Quality of Government (QoG) Institute, University of Gothenburg, Sweden explained why women in elected office reduce corruption levels from the in her research published in the “Oxford handbook on the Quality of Government”,  she found that women were typically more risk-averse and often more focused on the public good and welfare.

Also, being outsiders in most male-dominated environments insulated them to some extent from becoming part of corrupt networks. She also pointed out that besides the strong association between women in elected office and lower corruption levels, corruption can be an obstacle to the recruitment of women which needs to be urgently addressed to encourage more women representation in office.

Ms. Ekeanyanwu also pointed out some of the missed opportunities in the gender-sensitive language in the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) as well as the implementation review mechanism. She also urged for the introduction of gender-sensitive anti-corruption policies and programming as well as for the gender disaggregation of data in the review of countries’ implementation of the requirements of the Convention.

Ambassador Ehab Fawzy, Deputy Executive Director of the Women Development Organisation stated that “If we want to achieve our SDGs we need to work on corruption and the empowerment of women. We need to build gender-responsive mechanisms to help women play a role in all public policies.”

According to the Moderator of the event, Mr. Daniel Kempken, Senior Advisor, Rule of Law and Anticorruption at the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany ‘the UNGASS declaration has established the global commitment for increased focus on the interlinkages between gender and corruption and the Sharm-El-Sheikh Declaration reiterates this commitment.”

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