By: Alex A. Bah
On the 31st October, 2003, Nations met in New York at the United Nations General Assembly and signed the United Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which represents a commitment made by all Nations to fight corruption. The Nations that were present were gravely concerned about the seriousness of corruption and the threat it poses to stability and national cohesion, which undermines the institutional machineries, ethical values, justice, the application of the rule of law, and sustainable development. As such, they registered their unreserved commitment to employ their collective and concerted efforts to fight against this menace.
The International Anti-Corruption Day is a day that was then set aside to raise awareness on corruption, and actively promote campaigns motived to prevent and curb corruption in every sphere of society. It is a symbolic period that countries within the global space remind each other about the damaging effects of corruption, and reecho the need for sustained cooperation in the fight. The Anti-Corruption Commission of Sierra Leone being a signatory to the UNCAC, each year joins the rest of the World in commemorating the IAC Day.
The significant role of women in the fight against corruption takes pre-eminence in the discourse in this year’s commemoration, with the theme; Women taking center stage in the fight against Corruption. Women who are the primary caretakers of society; especially children in every part of the global space hold the most influence to the direction of society. They hold families together and the burden to raise children squarely rests on their shoulders.
In a report published by U. N. Women in July 2020, it indicates that one out of every three women face violence in their lifetime. They are at the heightened risks of violence in public places and at home they are often entrapped with their abusers, with limited access to support services, healthcare and justice systems. All of these assaults and abuse have in no small margin affected society by suppressing their enormous contributions in building an enabling and conducive society.
Bribery and Corruption as a social vice in Sierra Leone like many other parts of the world, is primarily a nurtured practice that children from their homes learn and absorb. This is why the fight against these inherent practices is fierce. It makes it very obvious that succeeding in this fight requires conscious steps to initiate virtues of integrity in various homes, and that will reflect on the broader society. This can be realized when women who are the torchbearers of homes normalize teaching morally accepted virtues and instilling integrity values in their children.
According to Stop Street Harrassment (SSH), an organization based in Reston, Virginia, United States, dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide, online survey in 2018, revealed that 77% of women as opposed to 34% of men are sexually harassed each. The survey further indicates that 66% of these women are being sexually harassed in public spaces, with 38 percent of them workplace. This is a pervasive problem that has permeated our spaces, suppressing women and depriving them of the enabling environment to realize and maximize their potentials. While steps are being taken and more actions are beckoned to be instituted, this anomaly is a grave integrity issue that can be addressed when women themselves start resisting, reporting and seeking redress for such issues. Their huge participation in public spaces can help design their approach to fighting corruption that they must have been at the receiving end at least at one stage of their lives as the aforementioned studies suggests.
While it is still blurry to ascertain whether women are less corrupt than men or not, it is however the argument that, where more women are strategically placed, are more likely to be democratic systems, and are generally intolerant to abuse of power which will provide the enabling environment for governance to improve and corruption falls. In Peru, for instance, a study shown that public perception of bribery as a major problem plummeted in 2012 as compared to 14 years earlier, with the recruitment of 2,500 women to patrol the streets.
According to Stuart Duff Article published in July 2019, she described Theresa May as a Resilient, Rigid and Robust leader. Though she was considered unpopular in other quarters, she focused on delivering on her promise to the British People. “As she met increased resistance though, May became more robust in attitude and behavior. She pushed away advisers as her desire was placed firmly on delivering what she had promised to the British people; leaving the European Union”, Duff wrote.
Moreover, the ACC’s success over the past three years, that has provided the impetus for its tangible recoveries, spot-on arrests, innumerable convictions, and its exponential rise in various local and global corruption assessments, can largely be attributed also to the indispensable role played by its ever-ready and fierce crop of female anti-graft fighters.
In 2019, through the Affirmative Action, the Commission under the stewardship of Francis Ben Kaifala Esq., promoted 80 percent of its female staff. This also includes two Regional Heads in Makeni and Kono that are women, out of the five Regional Offices. Every assessment and impact thus far, speaks volume of their contributions. Notably, two most important Departments of the Commission which are the Intelligence and Investigations, and the Human Resources Department are headed by women. The same is for the Commission’s Public Relations Officer, and the Deputy Director of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy Secretariat.
The fight against corruption is for all the reasons as stated above more of a national fight, but requires a huge commitment of women to achieve the desired results and impacts.
Women are by every art and act makers and shapers of society.
Public Relations Unit, ACC