Seeing beyond the state: grassroots women's perspectives on corruption and anti-corruption

Seeing beyond the state: grassroots women's perspectives on corruption and anti-corruption

Although corruption is a global phenomenon affecting all social classes and groups, women (particularly poor women) are among those most affected. As women are far more likely than men to be engaged in vulnerable employment, and their unpaid care work is undervalued, corruption impacts them disproportionately.

Since they face corruption in their everyday lives, women from marginalised communities know best how to deal with corruption in ways that both empower them, and enhance the quality of life of their families and communities. Thus, understanding corruption from the perspective of grassroots women, and raising the visibility of their local strategies to address misuse of power, are central to prevent and reduce corruption.

In order to better understand corruption from the perspective of women at the grassroots level, the Huairou Commission undertook a study of 11 communities across eight countries in partnership with UNDP's Global Thematic Programme on Anti-Corruption for Development Effectiveness (PACDE).

The objective of this study was to document grassroots women’s perceptions and experiences of corruption in developing countries, and bring this knowledge to important discourses concerning anti-corruption, gender equality and women’s empowerment. This publication directs attention to the lack of research on the gendered impact of corruption on poor communities. It also provides some initial insights from grassroots women.

The following are the ten key findings of this study, each of which has a corresponding set of recommendations for addressing the gender dimensions of corruption in anti-corruption programming:

• Grassroots women describe corruption in terms of specific misuses of power

• Women’s definitions of corruption vary by region

• Women view all public agencies as corrupt

• Although there might be differences in where and how they experience bribery, it is a part of everyday life for both grassroots men and women

• Bribery occurs not just in basic service delivery, but in all areas of engagement with public agencies

• The burden of bribery falls most heavily on women of caregiving age

• Grassroots women perceive group-affiliated leaders to be more accountable

• Organised women are empowered to fight corruption

• Women’s anti-corruption initiatives are relevant to local and political contexts

• Fighting corruption and building the capacity of women’s groups should go hand-in-hand

[adapted from source]

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