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The impact of corruption on women, strategies for change (Part 3)

Image courtesy of Transparency International via YouTubePart 1 of this three-part series looked at some statistics on women’s experience with corruption.

Part 2 explored strategies that can help reduce women’s experience with corruption.

This final segment will look at how corruption has impacted women and how women — supported by public-service groups — have fought corruption in their communities.


In Morocco, Rwanda and Tajikistan, a five-year global initiative supported by the United National Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Gender at Work (an NGO), seeks to enhance women’s access to public services.

It advocates reforms in public-service agencies at the community level and monitors service delivery to make sure it is responsive to poor women’s needs.

Importantly, it is creating a service-quality feedback tool so women and service providers can communicate. By analyzing and addressing institutional barriers for providing service to women at the local level, the program seeks to address gaps and build accountability.

In Rajasthan, India, an anti-corruption movement largely spearheaded by women is the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan. This group of women, many of whom are laborers on government-funded infrastructure projects, has exposed corruption in public-works programs by publicly auditing the programs’ spending patterns.

In the process, they inspired others to call for greater rights to access official decision-making, particularly regarding public spending. 

The result was passage of a consitutitional amendment that created India’s Right to Information Law.

In the Philippines, the Public Services Labour Independent Confederation (PSLINK) serves as an umbrella organization for 386 public-sector unions. In one widely publicized case, a director of a public education agency was diverting education funds to his own election campaign and engaging in the trafficking of women.

PSLINK not only recruited other civic groups and activists to help them expose his wrongdoing, they even posed as unsuspecting applicants to learn how his scam operated. They arranged for the media to publicize the story, and they used evidence they collected to file a case with the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission. In March 2007, the Commission formally charged the director with corruption.

In Argentina, UNIFEM used funding provided by the United Nations Democracy Fund to partner with a local group called the Fundación Mujeres en Igualdad (MEI). Together they founded the Organizing Women against Corruption project. In one province, the MEI exposed how funds intended for a domestic violence program were diverted by the executive branch of the national government, without the knowledge of the legislature, in clear violation of procedure.

By shining a light on the corruption through the media and mobilizing grassroots support, the MEI was able to expose the politicians’ abuse of authority and restore the funding.


The author would like to thank the following people for their help in assembling the information used in this 3-part series: Aparna Polavarpu (University of South Carolina Law School), Shruti Shah (Transparency International), Pascale Hélène DuBois (World Bank) and Soramon (Ploy) Urapeepatanapong (World Bank).


Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of the FCPA Blog and can be reached here. 

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1 Comment

  1. Effective democratic action to supervise government actors is one way to curtail their corruption. Another course would be to reduce the role and number of government monopolies in the provision of services, which invite corruption and even necessitate participation in corruption by the customers and vendors of government actors.

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