The African Union (AU) has tagged 2018 as the African Anti-Corruption year, aimed at elevating the efforts and activities that key players are deploying and implementing in fighting corruption on the continent this year.
Mrs. Charity Hanene Nchimunya, Executive Secretary to the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, who announced the theme in Arusha, Tanzania, also disclosed that the AU has designated President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria as the Champion for the year of anti-corruption.
The AU Anti-Corruption year is on the general theme: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.
The African Union Advisory Board on Corruption tasked all to press for progress in the fight against corruption and reducing, or even better, eradicating the undermining effects and impact it has on the welfare of women and the girl-child.
She said everyone is expected to contribute to the fight against corruption as its negative effects affect all of us.
Speaking on the theme; “Impact of Corruption on Women and Girl-Child Welfare,” at an event organised by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights at Arusha, Mrs Nchimunya said though corruption affects both men and women, women suffer the impact of corruption more.
“This mainly is due to the already existing unequal gender relations in society, where women are in many settings more exposed to corruption and its consequences,” she said.
Mrs Nchimunya, whose speech was made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, on Thursday, said the effects and impact of corruption on women should be considered, due to the fact that women are more affected than men, as women form the majority of the global poor and hence are the most vulnerable in the society.
“You may wish to appreciate that many African countries still experience gender inequality in their societies. Women tend to be deprived of their rights and are considered as the minority.
“They are largely exposed to illegal acts, corruption being one among them that occurs in their daily lives. Gender inequality is not a topic to be ignored when discussing the impacts of corruption on women and girl-child welfare,” she noted.
She stressed that studies have revealed that gender inequality breeds corruption and likewise corruption aggravates gender inequality. This leads women to experience the effects and impact of corruption disproportionately and their wellbeing and welfare is negatively affected.
“Women, many of whom are the primary caretakers and are living in poverty, have the greater need for essential and basic services. Most of them being responsible for the care of children and the elderly need to access essential services such as health, education, water and sanitation.
“Studies however have revealed that women and girls, being vulnerable, fail to get easy and unhindered access to these essential and basic services, such as education, health, water, sanitation and electricity, documentation (licenses, residence and identity papers) and law enforcement,” she stated.
Mrs Nchimunya, said corruption shrinks public revenue that leads to cutting spending on social services and seriously undermines women and children, who rely most on such services provided by the state.
On the political front, women who have the desire to engage in politics often times find it challenging to do so, as some corrupt political party structures create an unfair environment for women officials to have access in decision making processes in a country’s government and political system, she said.
She said when corruption creeps into the law enforcement systems, it erodes the protection and advancement of women’s rights.
“Women are also subjected to corruption when seeking employment or pursuing their own businesses in both the formal and informal sectors. This kind of corruption prevents them from starting businesses and acts as a major barrier to earning income or sustaining their businesses.
“As women form a large part of the informal sector in which corruption tends to be more rampant, they are more likely to be under constant pressure to yield to corruption and thereby lose their hard earned revenue or even livelihood.
“Women also face extortion when exercising their land and property rights. They are forced to bribery during land transactions so they can have what rightfully belongs to them,” she said.
Mrs Nchimunya said the underlying principle remains that we need to deal with corruption and its every manifestation.
“If women and girls are regarded as key players in development, then targeted solutions must be developed to ensure that their rights are not infringed upon, that they have equal and unhindered access to the basic services and are given platforms to exercise their human rights and ensure that corruption is eradicated at all levels,” she said.