Corruption: Its evils and how it has penetrated on the bodies of women


Corruption:  Its evils and how it has penetrated on the bodies of women.

The 30th African Union (AU) Summit kicked off on the 22nd of January 2018 at the headquarters of the pan-African bloc (in Addis Ababa) under the theme "Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa's Transformation." Through FEMNET’s support I was able to attend the GIMAC (Gender Is My AgendaCampaign) AU Pre-Summit that continued to keep in line with the main summit’s theme (Corruption and Governance: Impact and way out for Women, Children and Youths). Over and above the very informative and profound 8 discussions that took place at the GIMAC meeting, one thing stood out to be true: corruption has infiltrated every area of society and adversely affected women and girls above all other key populations. The rot of corruption has infiltrated the education sector, women’s health care, public service delivery, the extractive industry, governance, electoral processes and led to poor service delivery including of sexual reproductive health services as well as forced and early marriage amongst other vices. 

Another key learning area was that African citizens need to be more aware of the fact that the corruption of our continent is not always a bribe exchanging hands. It neds to be pointed out that forced marriage is the corruption of a woman’s body and freedom. On the other hand,  female genital mutilation is the corruption of a woman’s body and right to sexual pleasure while unfair labour practices are a corruption of women’s right to equal pay and decent work. It is only when we begin to understand this that we can make more deliberate efforts at community and family level to ensure these and other harmful practices and laws do not find a space within the African narrative. Another key component of the conversation at the GIMAC summit was the role of illicit financial flows (IFFs) in the systematic decline of the continents economy and the general welfare of its vulnerable populations. Contrary to common belief, corruption forms a rather small percentage of total IFFs. The majority of the USD 50billion that Africa loses annually through IFFs is as a result of harmful tax practices by large corporations and trafficking activities within the continent. The issue of taxation and lack of transparency in Extactives and Natural Reasourses pertaining to Concession agreements was also part of the frames petition to the African Heads of State. 

IFFs compromise African government’s ability to meet their financial obligations and as is the common story, social programmes that are largely needed by women, girls and the youth receive little to no funding. This cascade puts women and girls at greater risk for human trafficking which generates more IFFs and so the vicious cycle continues. This simple, panoramic view of the role of IFFs in the disempowerment of women and girls is a key first step to African governments and CSOs developing joint strategies to oblige multi-national corporations to pay taxes and amplify measures aimed at ending human and drug trafficking. 

Conversely, it was encouraging to see the robust efforts of CSOs across the region aimed at countering the wide array of corrupt practices before the fact and the presence.  The Summit was also blessed with the participation of young women and girls across Africa. 

Therefore at last, we all need to ignite an eternal flame and mould a corruption free future. We must collectively work together towards slaying and tackling the corruption dragon without fear!

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