By Edwin Muhumuza
Legislators meeting in Kigali, Rwanda want African governments to give women more leadership positions as a solution to corruption. They say women tend to behave more honestly than men and are concerned about fairness in their decisions.
“Several studies suggest that women are less corrupt, and that companies with a higher number of women in decision making perform better in terms of resource management and maintaining a zero tolerance level for corruption,” said First Lady, Mrs Janet Kagame, who opened the 11 th Pan African Parliament Conference on the Rights of Women.
She said that women’s leadership as proactive and social agents of change is the game changer in the fight against corruption in Africa.
Alhagie Mbow, a legislator from The Gambia, reinforced the assertion that women’s leadership is crucial in combating corruption and bolstering African economies.
“The latest research by Virginia Tech says that a greater representation of women in government is bad news for corruption,” he said adding that, “If we want to eliminate corruption in this continent, we need to empower women more by giving them positions of leadership. Women empowerment is not just about giving women basic positions but positions such as being heads of state, ministers of finance, ministers of energy, because these are positions where they can make an impact.”
The study, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization by Virginia Tech in June 2018, spanned 125 nations worldwide, and established that corruption is lower in countries where there are a greater number of women in political leadership.
Responding to the findings, Uganda legislator Hon. Babriye Veronica Kadogo, observed that indeed corruption is a cancer affecting development because it affects all sectors. She noted that women are affected the most because corruption affects service delivery especially in the areas of health, infrastructure, education, water, sanitation, and other social sectors, which mainly affect women and children.
The legislator however sought to be provided statistics to support the proposition of the piety of women in leadership.
“The discussants have talked about women not being corrupt but they have not given us statistics,” she said adding “What is the percentage of women compared to men who are corrupt because if the statistics indicate 40 per cent then it is high. And who are those women who are corrupt? The majority are rural women and that means it’s the elite and those women here that are corrupt.”
With regard to corruption being exacerbated by low levels of women’s empowerment, Kadogo said Uganda has programmes of empowering women, especially those in rural areas to equip them with capital and entrepreneurial skills.
During the debate on the gender dimension in the fight against corruption, members pointed out that the increasing incidences of electoral corruption had the potential to undermine the effectiveness of women in the fight against corruption. Some legislators also questioned the assertion that women were less corrupt arguing that they participated indirectly through agents or benefited from proceeds of corruption.
Hon. Anifa Bangirana Kawooya, who is also the 3 rd Deputy Chairperson of the Pan African Parliament Women’s Caucus, presented to participants the conference recommendations and way forward, which included among others that African parliaments should advocate for gender mainstreaming in all governance and developmental initiatives in order to ensure that women are given leadership positions and that women empowerment is given priority. That African Union member states should be encouraged to ratify and domesticate AU instruments on gender equality and the fight against corruption. They also recommended to African countries to introduce values of anti corruption in their school curricular.