Corruption can be defined as the abuse of power for private gains. The vice adversely affects those outside of the corridors of power. Amongst those who are mostly affected by the vice are women.
According to Transparency International (TI), women constitute 70% of the world’s poor; they are kept out of jobs, deprived of an education, denied legal rights, among a host of other challenges brought about by corruption and other power dynamics. Though corruption is not gender neuter per se, women and girls are disproportionately affected.
In Nepal alone, the women dying during childbirth in their homes are mostly in their teens. The Nepalese government devised a strategy where each woman who opts to deliver in a hospital is given an allowance to encourage hospital deliveries, as they are safe as well as reduce the childbirth death rates.
Neat plan it is, save for the fact that the local district officials started creating fake mothers lists to pocket the money; and the women kept on dying!
In institutions of learning, young women are under threat of poor or failing grades where sex demanded (in lieu of money) is resisted by these young women. Nancy Hendry of the International Association of Women Judges in Washington DC, referred to these cases as Sextortion. Worst still, others are enticed to having sexual relations with University staff in exchange for accommodations, food, and other favours.
Additionally, corruption is an impediment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially the ones related directly to health services: Improved maternal health; reduced child mortality rate; the Fight against Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases.
When women & girls are empowered
Cases of girls standing up against corruption are hard to come by, which makes Marriam Malak, dubbed the Zero Schoolgirl as she came to be known a classic example, albeit rare, of the possibilities of girl-power. Born to a poor family in the southern province of Miya, the 19-year-old had a consistent score in the 90 percentile range only to be presented with a “zero” as her result. Her efforts to have the matter investigated were reportedly dodged by the authorities. The papers attributed the zero were not in her hand, aside of that, she states she wrote page upon page in her exams. Her persistence got the attention of the media and an audience with the Prime Minister, Ibrahim Mahlal. A forensic handwriting audit was ordered to get to the bottom of the situation. It is likely to expose a results corruption racket that favours the poorly performing rich children.
In 2014, Hoda, a Lebanese woman reported the Tripoli’s governor of sexually harassing her when she sought the renewal of her work contract. The event led to the resignation of the governor. According to UNDP (2014) 25 women in Uganda after being empowered were able to secure title deeds in their names for their lands; another 120 of them were in the process of processing their deeds. While in Brazil 3,000 were granted deeds; going to show that empowering grassroots women transforms power dynamics making it a game changer.
In women and girls lie our hopes
Women’s empowerment in institutions of learning should be adopted as a precondition for development and social change for combating corruption in Kenya. This is vital for two important reasons. Firstly, the tradition view that women are not corrupt is proving untrue since there have been reported cases of corruption involving women; and secondly, women are involved in corruption because it is becoming an established norm in our society, everyone is doing it. They may be slow entrants, but they are also the best bet at curbing the vice. We should not let the vice get the best of them.
Nevertheless, society still has faith that women, unlike men, are less likely to pay bribes. The IRIS Centre-University of Maryland conducted a study and reported that, corruption is less severe where there are more women parliamentarians as opposed to men. A similar view was shared by the World Bank research on “Corruption and Women in Government”. The study related higher rates of females’ involvement in government with lower levels of corruption. In addition, Mexico’s government decided to increase the number of its female police officers in the hope of combating corruption. This projects women as having higher standards of ethical behaviour compared to men, besides being a better bet in dealing with curbing graft.
Mentor Kenya a youth based organization, that plans to harness the qualities women are appreciated to exhibit and nature them for posterity in the girl child; considering that they are the future mothers of the nation. With the girls mentored early and empowered, they are bound to develop skills that they shall carry forward with them well in to their adult lives. They are also more likely to share them with their male relations than boys in their position would.
Sage African counsel states; educate a man and you educate an individual; Educate/Empower a Woman & You Educate/Empower a Nation (generations). As primary care givers they pass on the skills to their children both male and female alike. This means that by extension the boys too, get inculcated in the anti-corruption culture
Empowerment of girls is not by any means the only effective model for fighting corruption, but is a powerful tool to address the vice.
Indeed curbing corruption would be enhanced with the empowerment of the girls besides doubling as a help to the cause minimising gender disparities too.
leave a comment, like Mentor Kenya