Global Resources

Political Cleaners: Women as the New Anti-Corruption Force?

Author: A. M. Goetz
Publisher: Development and Change Journal
Publication Date: Jan 2007
There is a myth that women are less corrupt than men. Some aid donors have cited statistical evidence that countries with larger numbers of women in politics and in the workforce have lower levels of corruption. That this finding can be explained by the fact that there are more women in politics and the workforce in liberal democracies that are anyway less corrupt than poorer less liberal regimes does not detract from the eagerness with which some development actors are seizing upon the potential role women might play in fighting corruption. The myth of women's incorruptibility is not, of course, new. It is grounded in ideas that women naturally have a higher moral nature and an assumed propensity to bring this to bear on public life, and particularly on the conduct of politics. After demonstrating that some of the recent studies about gender and corruption record perceptions about inclinations to engage in corrupt behaviour, this article suggests rather that the gendered nature of access to politics and public life shapes opportunities for corruption. In addition, corruption can be experienced differently by women and men, which has implications for anti-corruption strategies. A gendered analysis of corruption is, in fact, a useful entry point to the examination of the gendered nature of accountability failures, and of gender-specific gaps in current attempts to promote good governance.