Women’s jobs have been almost twice as vulnerable to the ongoing pandemic than men’s jobs and women have taken on even more hours of unpaid labour at home. Women constitute a significant majority of front-line workers and predominantly occupy care and healthcare professions as well as other essential professions that are keeping communities afloat, making them more exposed to infection risks.

Women have also been more impacted by corruption linked to COVID-19. Even before the pandemic hit, we knew that women were disproportionally affected by corruption in their daily lives – both in terms of access to public services and economic opportunities. For example, women were more susceptible to land-grabbing by mining interests and even singularly impacted by illicit financial flows.

The problem is perpetuated because women also have fewer opportunities to demand accountability, redress and justice or to participate in decisions affecting their lives.

The vulnerability of women to corruption does not depend on gender alone, as the power asymmetries that fuel corruption intersect with each other. Social stigma has prevented women from reporting gendered forms of corruption like sextortion, which occurs when those entrusted with power use it to sexually exploit those dependent on that power. Women, particularly those belonging to marginalised and vulnerable groups, such as migrants, refugees and sex workers, are especially vulnerable to sextortion.

This phenomenon is still largely unrecognised, which makes it hard to gather data to further study it, ensure safe reporting mechanisms for survivors, or prevent its occurrence.

Transparency International recently started collecting quantitative data on the issue through our Global Corruption Barometer surveys. The results in Latin America and the Caribbean show the magnitude of the problem: one in five respondents said they, or someone they knew, had experienced sextortion.

All this is why gender must be taken into account when researching corruption and planning anti-corruption interventions. To ignore the specific impact of corruption on women is to ignore women.

Topic guides are a series of publications developed by the Anti-Corruption Helpdesk on key corruption and anti-corruption issues. They provide an overview of the current anti-corruption debate and a list of the most up to date and relevant studies and resources on a given topic.

This topic guide provides an overview of the linkages between gender and corruption.

– Women’s perceptions, attitudes and behaviours towards corruption
– Corruption and women’s participation in public life and politics
– The gendered impact of corruption
– Women as part of the solution: a gendered approach to anti-corruption
– Resources

Marie Chêne, Transparency International
Janna Rheinbay

p/o Virginie Gastine Menou

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