It’s no secret that many men in politics take part in corruption. Whether it’s taking a bribe, passing regulations that favor the wealthy and corporate interests, exploiting resources, using government money to purchase drugs, prostitutes, or lavish gifts, I can easily think of a few examples in the US (**ahem ex-mayor of NY, ex-governor of Virginia**ahem). But do women take part in corruption as often?
One of my favorite movies is “Mean Girls”-- Let me tell you why. I love the movie because all of that sneaky shady behavior happens all the time in real life. That line, “raise your hand if you’ve ever said something bad about another person” sadly holds true for so many girls and women. In “Mean Girls”, Tina Fey exposes the inner girl world of a US high school and it’s not what you’d expect. A complex system of corruption, girls vying for power, and total takedowns of the “queen bee” is revealed, which contrasts with the docile nature society expects from girls and women.
Even still, women are often perceived to be less corrupt and held to higher moral and ethical standards because of gender stereotypes categorizing women as the “softer sex.” Gender stereotypes ingrained in society teach girls to grow up obedient, quiet, patient, and calm.
So which is it? Are girls and women scheming, plotting corruptors or are women inherently nurturing, and peaceful in positions of power? Just how corrupt are women compared to male counterparts?
Would the world be more peaceful if women were in charge?
First, I want to acknowledge that gender inequality exists everywhere. No country in the world has closed the gender gap on all fronts. It’s clear women have lacked equal access to positions of power in politics, business, and other arenas.
Gaps in income inequality are slowly decreasing, and in countries like the US equal pay is a hot topic.
More girls have access to education than ever before and the ratio of girls to boys in school has increased.
Women lead 18 governments around the world, an admittedly small number, but still an improvement from years past.
So, as the world transitions toward a more equal place for women is an end to corruption going to be one of the benefits?
Well… it depends.
Statistically, women are less likely to accept or provide a bribe than men in politics, but the number of women in politics is still so few that it is hard to accurately measure and compare. In the US, women only hold 20 percent of seats in Congress.
Women are less corrupt than men in democratic countries with low levels of corruption. But the same study from Rice University found in countries with high levels of corruption, unfortunately women play the game just as well as men.
This could be because such systems only allows corrupt people to rise politically.
For example, President of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner bears some pretty heavy allegations such as aiding in protection of Iranian officials who bombed a Jewish centre in 1994 and killed 85 people. Then the case was dropped when the prosecutor was mysteriously murdered.
So simply adding more women into politics will not solve corruption in countries where corruption runs rampant.
However, there is a silver-lining.
Women may not be the answer to solving corruption in politics, but if corruption levels lower and women have equal positions of power and leadership, then we can count on keeping those levels of corruption to a minimum.
After all, women can fix a lot! Empowering women boosts economies, quality of life for children, lowers infant mortality rates, and more. Promoting and supporting women in positions of power is a key part of achieving gender equality. But ending corruption may require a bit more help. I guess sometimes you can’t expect women to solve everything.
So what is the answer to eliminating corruption?
Here are six ways to end corruption proposed by the World Bank:
1. Pay civil servants well
2. Open transparency in government spending (seriously, where do taxes go?)
3. Strengthen international conventions
4. Cut red tape
5. Update to smart technology
6. Change subsidies into cash transfers (learn more about these here.)
According to the World Bank it looks like it's all about making government spending more transparent. I hope these actions are taken so that women can equally enter politics and positions of power and take those last steps to end corruption.
Women deserve equal access to positions of leadership and the opportunity to address, challenge and take part in global politics. Help support Global Goal 5: Gender equality and other Global Goals that can create a future with equal right and no corruption.
Go to TAKE ACTION NOW and send a Tweet asking the President of Brazil to step up for girls and women everywhere.