Can women lead the global fight against corruption?


kosovo-women-coding-course-anticorruption-gender-equalitySource: Girls Coding Kosova Facebook Page

When it comes to addressing corruption globally, there’s a lack of using gender-sensitive approaches.

In recent years, we at UNDP in Kosovo* have carried out assessments on the impact of corruption on women and men. Most of this research proved that corruption is not gender neutral. That is to say, women experience corruption differently than men, which can limit their access to public services.

At the same time, our studies have also shown women to be better at identifying corruption practices and more likely to find them unacceptable.

But are women actually any less corrupt than men?

It’s true that since women are underrepresented in public service and have limited access to power networks and decision-making, they are less likely to be part of corrupt practices. But this also makes it difficult to assess if women would show more integrity in leadership and management if they had equal access to positions of power that men have traditionally held.

What we can claim with certainty is this: 

There are powerful women fighting corruption around the world, setting the standards for transparent public service and equality of opportunity.

Recent studies have shown that empowered women who have an opportunity to participate in decision-making are powerful agents in the fight against corruption.

Who hasn’t heard about Laura Kövesi, the chief prosecutor of Romania's National Anticorruption Directorate, spearheading the revolution in the fight against corruption in Romania? Within a year of her taking the mantle, a sitting prime minister and 1,250 public officials were indicted for corruption.

Who doesn’t know about Thuli Madonsela, South Africa’s public prosecutor, winner of the Transparency International Integrity Award, who investigated police chiefs, politicians and even the president himself?

In Kosovo, the very first woman mayor elected in 2014, Mimoza Kusari Lila, is well known for her commitment to implement the anti-corruption agenda as one of the highest priorities. For two years now, the municipality of Gjakova/Djakovica is the first to open up procurement data, has reformed the public administration through digitizing public services in recruitment and budget spending, and has been rated by CSOs as the most transparent municipality.


kosovo-women-coding-course-anticorruption-gender-equalitySource: Girls Coding Kosova Facebook Page


What these examples reveal is that we need anti-corruption initiatives to be gender-sensitive and targeted at both women and men.

Here is how we at UNDP are supporting governments to implement policies in order to ensure that women are equally involved in the fight against corruption:

  • Ensure transparent recruitment procedures for public office and implement policies to increase the number of women in public life.
  • Offer equal access to trainings and professional development opportunities for women and men and encourage women to pursue jobs and positions considered to be traditionally occupied only by men.
  • Increase women’s awareness of their rights and enhance their ability to undertake collective action to address corruption.
  • Develop corruption reporting mechanisms that are easily accessible and safe.

Blog post Europe & the CIS Kosovo* Romania Goal 16 Peace, justice and strong institutions Goal 10 Reduced inequalities Goal 5 Gender equality Women's empowerment Governance and peacebuilding Accountability Anti-corruption Human rights Political participation Rule of law Transparency

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