Friday, August 7, 2009

Corruption and Gender

Background to gender and corruption
Corruption is an evil that has engulfed many sectors of our society. Some of the consequences and manifestations of corruption are worse in terms of their effects on service delivery and consequently on peoples’ lives. Corruption among the public servants has a hindrance to the human rights realization. In fact a service denied is a denied and abused right of the people supposed to receive it and

In most cases, in Uganda much of the tax payers’ money in billions is lost and the perpetrators go with impunity although the government would have taken preventive and punitive measures to address such cases. This has had a deterrent impact to many programs geared towards poverty reduction and development

Although many sectors of public service seem infested with corruption, Health sector is among the leading ones basing on the research findings ACCU commissioned and conducted in 2007, some of the shocking revelations is that medicines in hospitals are stolen by some health workers up to about 73% and that some of the medicine available was expired.

Policy and participation
It paramount to note that the government of Uganda has in the past ratified and signed several international and Regional instruments, conventions and charters that include:
Ø Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW: 1980)
Ø Beijing Platform of Action
Ø African Charter on Human and People’s Rights(1986)
Ø Protocol to African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of women Africa

In 1986 when NRM took power, it initiated Adjustment programs that addressed equality, equity and gender mainstreaming generally to empower women by: creation of Women Councils at different levels; special representation women at different levels (Local Councils to Parliament); Increasing number of women in the executive /Cabinet and other high ranking portfolios.

It is true that in addition to the above, the government through the constituent assembly recognized women and gender issues in the 1995 Constitution (Chap 4, art33) and created different bodies to tackle corruption and graft in public service, but if I may ask;

1. Why is corruption increasing daily and the public is losing billions of shilling when such steps were taken?
2. Who is responsible?
3. What should be done and by who?
4. Where is the Domestic Relations Bill when will be operational?
5. Are our political leaders ready to embrace National Anti Corruption Policy?

There are certainly many unanswered questions that need our focus!


Who is more affected by corruption? How and why?

In the long run corruption affects every one in the society but at different pace. Women and children seem to bear all the brunt of all messes of corruption. The poor rural women due to nature gender division of labour bear the burden of seeking health services, caring for every body in the family. As a matter of fact, women are less involved in corruption practices but heavily affected by its effects than men.

Nature of corruption in health
· Medical staff get direct bribes from patients for services received.
· Through procurement, tenders and bids by inflating rates.
· Some medical staff are involved in direct stealing of medicines/drugs.
· Charging illegal fees/ user fees.
· Some medical officers manipulate Health Management Committees for selfish interests and render them non functional.
· Embezzlement of maintenance funds and other funds from the central government that incapacitate service delivery.
· Late coming of some health officers especially doctors and Neglect of duty
· Frequent absenteeism of medical officers
· Deliberate and poor record keeping and accountability
· Harassment of patients by medical personnel and use of abusive language
· High government officials demand special and illegal payments.
· Diluted vaccines and Expired drugs find their way to health units for sale
· Political influence and pressure on some policies by some politicians
· Discrimination of patients.
· None- merit recruitments thus employing quack doctors/ nurses.

Possible Causes of corruption
· Greed and get rich quick tendencies of the health workers
· Less supervision and monitoring by relevant bodies
· Poor funding/ logistical support
· Inadequate supply of drugs/ medicines increases competition for few available drugs so
discrimination takes precedence.
· Political demands, influence and pressure on medical staff, decision making and resource
allocation

Effects of corruption in Health Sector
v Poor service delivery and reduces institutional quality
v Death and loss of lives in addition to increasing child mortality rates among others.
v Reduces the equal share of public expenditures by all the tax payers/ citizens.
v Corruption itself creates and shades the name” poor quality of government” and hatred by the citizens.
v Poor people resort to un-regulated traditional means of treatment and witchcraft.
v wide discrepancies in incomes
v law and order break down that order

PERTINENT GENDER AND CORRUPTION ISSUES
§ Gender and vulnerability
Corruption reduces public revenues resulting into less expenditure on basic services such as health care; education and other social services. Remember corruption affects more the poor especially women and children due the perceived societal division of gender roles.

§ Gender relations and opportunities
In Uganda, leadership is male dominated. In many sectors women are less represented thus making corruption a key feature of male dominated net works although you can not certainly prove that females are not corrupt

§ Decision making
When appointments are undermined and determined by corrupt tendencies, women in most cases are left out of the superior positions which makes them un able to influence important decisions. This has an effect on the development and gender mainstreaming.

§ Information and powerlessness
Majority of Ugandans particularly women do not know and are uninformed of their rights, privileges, duties, government programmes, and corruption issues. This has had an impact on the demand to know, get and contribute what is their due in health and other sectors so if loosely participate in the fighting of corruption.

Participation and under-representation of women in interventions
Women lack the voice and necessary support to fight corruption. They are less involved in many interventions. Women need to get the appropriate capacity building to fight corruption in Uganda.

§ Gender and Health
In order to improve maternal health stands out from the other MDGs, the leading argument is to avoid a gender-blind allocation of resources. The rate of maternal mortality in developing countries Uganda inclusive has barely changed from the baseline 1990 level of 480 per 100,000 births. The government of Uganda needs to redress resource allocation to health other than waiting for the donor community to handle this which is unpredictable and putting people’s lives at risk.

WAY FORWARD

A). ACCU/ACFODE and other CSOs
In order to bridge the gender, health and corruption gaps the civil society and donor community need to partner and work hand in hand to fight corruption impunity, gender imbalances and strongly advocate for effective pro-anticorruption legislation. There is needed to also be committed and focused on mobilization of the necessary resources to inform and build the capacity of women and communities.

B). Government
The government of Uganda to challenged to first of all show political commitment, will and interest to fight corruption and then go further to:
Ø Quickly advance and pass the draft bills supporting women’s rights and gender equality such as the domestic relations bill/ Domestic Violence Bill and further legislate on anticorruption strategies as matter of urgency.
Ø Allocate enough resources to fight corruption in all government sectors and address maternal and general Health challenges.
Ø Increase collaboration among women Parliamentarians and civil society organizations.
Ø Translate high numbers of women political leaders into advances on gender policy and legislation.
Ø Further sensitize of the media to health and gender issues, particularly on maternal health and corruption.
Ø Moral support, support supervision and effective monitoring of the government sectors especially Health since it core and fundamental to the people’s lives.
Ø Use the existing organs of government to track and apprehend culprits who deal, sale and use expired drugs on innocent Ugandans.

Paper presented to Action and ACCU partnership to fight corruption in the Health Sector.

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