Corruption is a scourge that has to be combated if Africa is to achieve the laudable goal of leaving no one behind as enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, says Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovani Biha.
Addressing the 31st Civil Society Pre-Summit Consultative Meeting on Gender Mainstreaming in the African Union and Member States on the theme: “Corruption and Governance: Impact and way out for Women, Children and Youths”, Ms. Biha said corruption is a vice that Africa can do without.
“In this fight we need to be cognizant of the differing impacts that corruption has on different population groups, including women and men, when formulating, implementing and monitoring anti-corruption initiatives,” she said.
Ms. Biha said increasing the participation of women in political and public life would also help in shaping gender-sensitive policies, adding civil society organizations, working closely with governments, also have a crucial advocacy role to play in this fight.
She commended GIMAC or the Gender is My Gender Campaign, for its important role in influencing the decisions and actions of the African Union to strengthen women’s rights and gender mainstreaming in the African continent.
She assured them the ECA would continue to support GIMAC’s endeavours. Ms. Biha said the theme of this year’s consultation was both timely and important.
“Continued and widespread corruption is one of the main challenges expected to undermine the ability of African countries to achieve the sustainable development goals included in the 2030 Agenda,” she said.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed upon in 2015 commits the international community to leaving no-one behind. Target 5 of Goal 16 calls on member States to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.
Socio-cultural norms and institutional arrangements, said Ms. Biha, are key factors that shape the roles that males and females are expected to play in society, as well as their ability to access productive resources, accumulate marketable skills and participate in political and public life. As a result, she added, corruption impacts men and women differently.
Ms. Biha said African governments should do more to combat corruption, in particular ratify the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption and domesticate its provisions in national legislation, plans, programmes and policies. Only 37 Member States have ratified the AU Convention.
Adequate organizational, human, technical and financial resources to anti-corruption institutions, she said, should be allocated to ensure that laws are effectively enforced.
“There’s also need to increase the participation of women in political and public life. As underscored by the Beijing Platform for Action, this is critical to place new items on the political agenda that reflect and address women’s gender-specific concerns,” Ms. Biha added.
She was supported by the African Union Commission’s Social Affairs Commissioner, Amira Eldadil, who told delegates there would be less corruption in the world if more women were allowed to participate in politics.
The African Union, she said, was doing all it could to help fight corruption on the continent and continues to advocate for gender sensitive policies in Member States.
Former Ireland President, Mary Robinson, now with Climate Justice, said women men were affected differently by climate change hence women hold valuable knowledge and experience to inform decisions on building resilience.
She said corruption is a scourge that should be fought with all the resources available as this would no doubt drastically improve the lives of women and youth the world over.
The 31st GIMAC is calling for the voice of women and young people to be considered by African leaders in the fight against corruption. Recommendations from the meeting will be forwarded to the AU leaders for discussion during their summit here in Addis Ababa this week.
The summit will be held under the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”