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U4 Helpdesk Answer

Corruption and gender equality

A summary of existing research

Ingrained power asymmetries between men and women produce gender and social roles that make women more exposed to abuses of power, which in some settings can expose them to higher risks of falling victim to corruption. Gendered power differentials, fuelled by historic patterns of discrimination, can embolden discriminatory behaviour that targets women for coercive corruption and other forms of exploitation. In addition, as a result of societal norms, women are frequently more exposed to higher corruption risks in areas of activity determined by stereotypical gender social roles and specific needs.

24 May 2021
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Corruption and gender equality

Main points

  • Corruption typically has a disproportionate impact on marginalised populations, and women are no exception. Corruption hinders both women’s access to good quality public services, upon which women tend to have a greater reliance, as well as restricting women’s participation in public, economic and political life, limiting their influence over decision-making.
  • A higher proportion of women in elected office is correlated with lower levels of corruption, but there are competing theories as to why this happens. What is known is that male dominated patronage networks can hinder women’s ability to run for office.
  • Sextortion is a type of corruption that involves an implicit or explicit request to engage in any kind of unwanted sexual activity in exchange for exercising power entrusted to someone occupying a position of authority. Sextortion affects women at far higher rates than men.
  • An intersectional approach could benefit future studies and help address the many dimensions that intersect in marginalised groups and make them more vulnerable to the effects of corruption.

Cite this publication

Camacho, G. (2021) Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Helpdesk Answer 2021:9)

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Gabriela Camacho


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This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)