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Women and the anti-corruption discourse
Transparency International – Zimbabwe (TI-Z)
March 07, 2007

Transparency International – Zimbabwe joins women organizations and coalitions in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world in commemorating the International Women’s day. The day was set aside to celebrate the economic, social, cultural and political achievements of women worldwide.

It is becoming more and more apparent that until programmes take into account the gender dimensions, they may not address the practical needs of the Zimbabwean population. As such, TI-Z calls for the engendering of all intervention strategies in development. On its part, TI-Z has mainstreamed gender in its anti-corruption initiatives, involving women in planning, implementation and evaluation of programmes. In 2001, the organization undertook a project aimed at establishing the link between corruption and gender and to highlight the manifestations of gender related corruption in the public and private sector. One of the outcomes of that project was the indication that most of the violations of women’s rights and their deprived access to public benefits were as a result of the abuse of power and resources by male dominated authorities. Thus women must continue to challenge the existing gender discrepancies in order to realize fair treatment, better access to service delivery and the enjoyment of socio-economic; cultural; civil and political rights.

There is need to compliment the efforts of the women’s civic groupings in fighting for a more enabling framework for the enjoyment of women’s rights. Mainstreaming the anti-corruption dialogue in the national agenda is one of the ways to complement the efforts by women and women interest groups, as it is now a fact that corruption affects women more than their male counterparts. Women’s rights are human rights and therefore an inalienable entitlement as enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Corruption pervades every aspect of women’s rights and since it impacts on men and women differently. A corrupt legal system for instance reinforces existing gender discrimination in many countries by perpetuating the status quo, which in many instances favors men. In Zimbabwe for instance, women’s civil rights were grossly unfair with regards to marriage/divorce, family, child custody, financial independence and inheritance and property rights. In this regard, achieving gender equity and equality of the enjoyment of rights by women in all aspects of life through various advocacy initiatives becomes imperative. However, as a result of women pressure groups, some reforms have been realized in this area. For instance, the common law and the customary law have been revisited with regards to inheritance and child custody in favor of women and of late the Domestic Violence Act, which the President recently ascended to.

Courageous women who have stood to challenge the male dominated political scene and the associated "monopolization and abuse of power" must indeed be celebrated. All women should emulate the likes of Margaret Dongo who at one time successfully challenged results of the electoral polls in Harare South constituency citing electoral fraud. The inclusion of women and their active participation in governance issues is envisaged to bring about more equitable and transparent systems in society as women have been reported to have higher standards of ethical behavior and appear to be more concerned with common good (World Bank research, 2001).

Women of Zimbabwe must continue to demand accountability, transparency and fairness in the social, economic and political spheres. Organizations working with, and representing women must work collaboratively to advance the interests of women in Zimbabwe. The collective effort displayed during the 16 Days of Activism and the lobby action towards the Domestic Violence Bill is appraisable and must be upheld.

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