It is generally agreed that corruption is a global problem, and its effects are far-reaching, especially in countries in the global south.
Given that corruption is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon that affects the essential principles of democracy and the rule of law, it hampers development and affects the fulfilment of human rights, particularly those of the most vulnerable groups; that women and girls are among the most affected, not least because they account for the largest proportion of people living in poverty and because corruption exacerbates existing inequalities as a result of asymmetric power relationships.
Women constitute half of the world’s population, yet they are mostly not engaged in discussions around one of the most pressing issues to development and social justice; corruption.
Their role however, can be seen as paradoxical; on one side they are the most affected by corruption, on the other, they occupy a key place in providing a remedy.
Following this on the way forward, Mrs. Clara Beeri Kasser-Tee, legal practitioner and consultant, in her paper presentation at the Women In Anti-corruption forum held on Thursday, November 28, 2019, at La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra, underscored the need for the formulation of sexual harassment policies and systems that would work very well to curtail its effect on both sexes.
The forum, facilitated by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was dubbed, “THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN GHANA.”
The objective of the forum was to create awareness, discuss, dialogue and agree among stakeholders on some country specific mechanisms for strengthening women’s role in the fight against corruption in Ghana.
Mrs. Clara Beeri, opined that, she would definitely advocate systems that are fair, that balance the power and definitely allow women to feel safe. Saying, “I don’t think men feel unsafe talking about these things. It is women who feel unsafe because at the end of the day, what it means on a woman’s life is more and usually she could get stigmatise. So we have to continuously create a society where women are free to talk about what wrongs they go through and employers and institutions must be committed to making sure that women feel free in the working environment and that they can completely rely on their talents rather than other fevers.”
According to her, It’s not necessarily the case that even the women they claim of giving that favors doesn’t have the talent, there may but they widely claim that it’s not enough and this she said is more like extortion.
However, she I thinks we looked at the systems rather than deal with who is a good person and a bad person. She believes that in society, there will always be good people and bad people. This she said is the reason why correct systems must be put in place in order not to reward bad people and punishing the good people.
She underpinned access to goods and services as one of the roles for women that can be used in the fight against corruption. Saying, “We should give women more access and more access like I said does not necessarily mean that it would result in a good fight against corruption…..but they could if we link it to setting the right values, setting the right systems and enforcing the right kinds of procedures that would allow that everybody is able to get to what they just deserves.”
She stressed that, “I still advocates a lot more women in public office….I think we have too few. Sometimes I wonder whether we have fewer now than we actually did before. Because, you think that we would be getting more but it’s beginning to look more like a bit more harder now to actually be able to get access to certain services than not.”
Mrs. Kasser-Tee, emphasized that, “We should still definitely encourage and implement gender advocacy or gender equality, but we should also look at the systems for fighting corruption.”
She further explained that, when it comes to that, it’s about opportunity, thus if women are given as much opportunity, it might eventually end up turning things around.
She said, now women don’t have as much power, if they have more power and more opportunities, the corruption levels may quite be the same, but if we start it and then do the right things, then of course it would link up to reduce the opportunities for corruption so that at least those coming ahead can do a bit better.
“So, in short, I believe those who say that corrupt institutions are likely to corrupt the individuals working in them, whether they are men or women…..I believe strongly in that. That If you have corrupt institutions, they would corrupt anybody working in them whether they are men or women,” She said.
Mrs. Clara Beeri Kasser-Tee, again intimated that, “If we want to fight corruption, we must look at the institutions. All the strategies we have for addressing corruption, we must use them but most importantly the opportunity here is to use the women as the change agents to create the systems that we don’t have and to nurture those systems until we have enough consensus within the population that, we really abhor corruption and then we would not engage in it rather than probably paying lip service to abhorrence of corruption but loving it in private.
Because sometimes it’s like that is what it is. You may preach that you don’t like corruption, but then you like the fruits of corruption and when you see the fruits of corruption you probably are complaining because you are not the one who has access to it.
So we have to be able to address the generality in the society, but using women as the change agent that we have.”
Nana Teiba Chinbuah, Head of Governance, UNDP, in delivering her talking points said, “Women are the custodians of building the value systems of the next generation as they mostly take care of children, with the needed capacity and information, women can contribute to advocacy against corruption in their local communities and demand accountability from public officials.
She explained that, corruption reduces resources for poverty reduction and deprives the poor and vulnerable of advancement opportunities.
Nana Chinbuah, continued that, corruption threatens economies by undermining fair competition and discouraging investment and trade. It disproportionately affects disadvantaged groups by preventing social inclusion, promoting inequality and inhibiting prosperity. While all of society suffers from the impact of corruption, some social groups are disproportionately affected. Those most affected are the poor and the vulnerable.
“Progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals would be undermined if corruption is not addressed. therefore, as stakeholders, we are here to devise strategies that will empower women to contribute towards the fight against corruption. It is my belief that this dialogue will be fruitful in charting the path to untap the potential of meaningfully including women in Anti-Corruption efforts.”
In her welcome address, Mrs. Beauty Emefa Narteh, Executive Secretary of GACC, indicated that women play a key role in shaping the value system of any society, in particular via raising their children. Therefore, they have an important contribution to make in building sustainable integrity systems.
She disclosed that, whilst women are hardest hit by corruption, they are also a part of the solution. Among other factors, women play a key role in shaping the value system of any society, in particular via raising their children. Therefore, they have an important contribution to make in building sustainable integrity systems.
“In order to enable women to contribute effectively towards the fight against corruption, it is necessary to establish a dialogue between the actors dedicated to fighting against corruption and for gender equality and equity, to allow for a greater understanding of the links between gender dimensions and corruption,” said, Mrs. Beauty Emefa Narteh.
To nourish the forum were dignitaries like; Prof. H.K Prempeh, Executive Director, CDD-Ghana, Mrs. Linda Ofori-Kwafo, Executive Director, Gll, Mr. Charles Ayamdoo, Director of Anti-Corruption, CHRAJ, CSOs, and other stakeholders.