Women network urges AU to escalate fight against corruption


The African Union Member States must take critical steps to eradicate corruption in Africa that perpetuates gender inequality and the disempowerment of women and girls in the continent, women network urges.

“The African Women’s Development & Communication Network, FEMNET is urging the regional body of 55 countries to proactively champion the agenda to fight corruption in Africa with the specific goal of bridging the gaps of gender inequality and increase service provision for Africa’s women and girls.”

This year the theme for the 30th Ordinary Session of the Africa Union Summit is; “Winning the fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.   By focusing on addressing issues of corruption in 2018, the Africa Union is declaring its solidarity with millions of Africa’s women and girls who have over the years decried the vice that continues to ravage the attainment of equal rights and services in the political, social and economic spectrum.

Massive losses in Africa

The African Union estimates that 25 per cent of the GDP of African countries are lost to corruption every year. 5% of these resources are lost through illicit financial flows with 65% of the outflows drawn from commercial activity by multinationals and 30% from criminal activities. In addition, the High-Level Panel Report on Illicit financial flows[i] estimated that Africa is losing more than $50bn every year as governments and multinational companies engage in criminal activities aimed at avoiding tax payments, impeding development projects and denying poor people access to crucial services.

It is within this conundrum of resource waste and embezzlement that the quality of life for Africa’s women and girls is worsened due to failure or inability by governments to provide services to sustain the needs of desperate populations.

FEMNET is urging the African Union to focus on filling the gaps created by corruption by utilizing resources that could have been lost or that is being recovered in anti-corruption efforts to replenish the gaps on provision of health care services, education and the establishment of infrastructure to improve the quality of life for its people.

Quiet specifically, FEMNET argues that resources lost through corruption could be transferred towards for instance, the provision of quality sexual and reproductive health services for Africa’s women and girls or even to improve the quality of primary, secondary and tertiary education.

 Women & girls bear the brunt of inequalities

Women in sub-Saharan Africa have an average of five children over their reproductive lifetime, compared to a global average of 2.5 children.  Sub-Saharan Africa has the second highest rate of early and forced marriage with Niger, Chad, Mali, Guinea, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso and South Sudan leading. In Niger, high fertility rates are accompanied by marriage at a very young age. 60% of young girls are married by age 19 and this figure increases alongside a reduction in age in rural communities, where the majority are married at 12 or 13 years of age. This is according to a 2015 UN Department of Social Affairs Report on Youth Population Trends and sustainable Development.

Every year, an estimated 74 million unintended pregnancies occur in developing regions, the great majority of which are among women using no contraception or a traditional method. If all unmet need for modern methods were met, 52 million of these unintended pregnancies could be averted, thereby preventing the deaths of 70,000 women from pregnancy-related causes.

Additionally, women and girls in Africa suffer and often succumb to gender-related violence contributing a significant loss of life of women of reproductive age.

Physical and social infrastructure in most countries in Africa has enabled the prevalence and reluctant acceptance of unpaid care-work that continues to perpetuate gender inequality and curtail the equal participation and remuneration of women.

The Africa Union must acknowledge the retrogressive impact of unpaid care work where women and girls in most African societies are expected or subjected to labour such as fetching water, collecting firewood, taking care of the home, the elderly  and children under poorly planned and inadequate infrastructure  fueling the reality of inequalities.

In a paper by IFPRI on the gendered patterns of Time Use conducted in Tanzania, a 2006 Tanzanian Time Use Survey showed that women on average devote three times as much time as men to unpaid care work activities such as household maintenance in addition to spending a similar share of their day on primary agricultural unpaid work. Men on the other hand tend to spend more time in other forms of paid work than women do and non-work activities such as social and cultural engagements and learning.

These and more scenarios in Africa continue to embody the prevalence of corruption and by extension discredit the lives of millions of Africa’s women and girls.

What the AU must do

FEMNET urges the African Union Summit currently meeting in Addis Ababa, to take into consideration the following measures within this critical year to ensure that the eradication of corruption is prioritised by all member states;

–          The African Union must adopt and implement all necessary measures to curb corruption at all levels.  It must encourage and instill open-governance mechanisms by all member states to enhance transparency and adequate public scrutiny of resource management and allocation.

–          The Africa Union must compel its membership to streamline and legislate on Natural Resource Governance and extractives to ensure that local communities adequately and equally benefit

–          Gender-budgeting must be streamlined within Africa Union policy frameworks and processes to ensure that gender equality is fully taken into consideration within these processes.

–          Member states to the Africa Union must adopt and implement regional policies such as the Abuja Declaration that will ensure a deliberately substantive stipulated budgetary allocation is allocated and provided annually for service provision such as health and education.