How might gender roles affect whether you engage, or hold back from, corruption?

CDA Collaborative Learning Projects

Several weeks ago we challenged readers with a question that has been bothering the Kuleta Haki team since late 2015: “Is female discrimination in the justice sector corruption?”. We have to admit that based on our monitoring results, not many of you shared our interest!   Let me take another stab at explaining why we care about this question.

In order to fully see how corruption works as a system, practitioners must understand how and why group norms (i.e., gender groups) might drive an individual in that group to engage or hold back from corruption.

We approached this project as an opportunity to conduct a gender analysis, analyzing different men’s and women’s roles in society (e.g., at home and in the workplace) and experiences with corruption, to better understand how corruption works within the criminal justice sector (CJS).

Earlier this summer, 2 consultants and 2 RCN J&D permanent staff held 87 interviews over the course of a 19-day field visit to help answer these questions:

  1. What are the gender power dynamics in the Lubumbashi courts?
  2. How are the experiences of corruption impacted by gender?
  3. How is one’s ability to resist affected by gendered experience?

In this post I will focus on points 1 and 2.

Why does an anti-corruption implementer need to think about gender?

Gender roles and power are closely linked. Often, gender roles convey a lot about who has control, power or influence and why, which is critical for several reasons:

  1. Corruption is the abuse of ‘power’ so knowing who has it and who does not is important in better understanding how corruption happens
  2. Also in thinking about resistance strategies, one needs to have a sense of what power is available, by who and how that resistance would play out.

If practitioners better understand: (a) the ways their anti-corruption project might make select participants unable to perform their gender roles, and (b) different gendered ways of engaging in corruption in each context, they may be able to develop better anti-corruption programming. Keep reading for some examples from our field visit, here:



This post is part of the corruption in fragile states series produced by CDA Collaborative Learning Projects. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive future posts from experts with unique insights, points of view, and experience on anti-corruption policy, program design, and implementation. This blog post, and greater research project, would not have been possible without the collaboration and dedication of the entire research team: Longin Baranyizigiye, Samantha Lakin, Patricia Mwela, Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church, and Grace Tshoma.

Author Kiely Barnard-Webster is a Program Manager at CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, working on innovative approaches to tackling corruption in the DRC. She is also currently contributing to several different peacebuilding effectiveness and conflict sensitivity projects at CDA, as well as helping to support CDA’s office in Myanmar. Kiely focused her studies on gender analysis and DM&E at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

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