Civil service in Moldova: time to look at corruption through a gender lens?

by and

It is largely acknowledged that corruption creates rampant inequalities, destroys opportunities and has a negative impact on people’s quality of life and the fulfillment of their human rights.

But what is less known is how corruption affects various social groups. For example, are women affected by corruption differently than men?

Recently, we asked this question at UNDP in Moldova. Together with the UNDP Global Anti-Corruption Initiative (GAIN) and the UNDP Regional Hub for Europe and the CIS we looked into the impact of corruption on women’s career development opportunities in central public administration of the Republic of Moldova.

According to this research, women seem to perceive corruption more acutely than men. 64.5 percent of women consider that corruption is widespread in public administration, compared to only 55 percent of men. Moreover, 17.2 percent of women reported to have witnessed acts of corruption, compared to only 10 percent of men. These findings suggest that women identify corruption situations more easily, partly because of their more peripheral role in networks of power and influence.

Could this indicate that recruiting more women in public administration would be a solution for lowering corruption levels?

International research on corruption also found gendered differences in levels of tolerance to corruption, with women perceiving this phenomenon more intensely. A higher level of women’s public and political participation can thus potentially lead to lower levels of corruption, a hypothesis first advanced by a well-known World Bank research more than 15 years ago.

There is definitely a need for more women to be involved in public service in Moldova as only 22 percent of Members of Parliament and only 19 percent of members of district and municipal councils are women. But women continue to face a complexity of barriers in advancing professionally in civil service. Gender stereotypes about gender roles and the division of family responsibilities often interfere with women’s advancement to higher-ranking positions. They also limit the professional opportunities that women can enjoy, like participation in trainings, conferences and business trips abroad, which men tend to benefit much more from.

As UNDP, there are a few things we can do to ensure that the advancement of women in civil service in Moldova continues to increase. First of all, we can keep decision-makers informed about the different ways in which corruption affects men and women and support them in crafting and implementing more effective gender-sensitive strategies to fight corruption. This research is a right step in that direction.

Second, we can advocate for human resources policies and incentives to support women in pursuing professional careers in civil service, such as putting measures in place to ensure women, in particular women with families and children, take equal advantage of professional development opportunities as men to participate in professional development activities, promoting work-life balance for both men and women, and increasing the level of transparency regarding employment and career advancement opportunities.

Third, we can provide targeted support to build the capacities of women professionals by establishing and supporting professional mentoring networks for women civil servants and promoting gender-responsive budgeting in the public sector.

Not only will these measures help promoting women’s increased involvement in civil service, but they have the potential to combat corruption, leading to more prosperous, equitable society for all.

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