Reporting Gender based corruption can deter its persistence in the Rwandan society

In whichever form and however small corruption may manifest itself, it should be reported by victims or witnesses and addressed immediately before it takes uncontrollable proportions. This is the case with gender based corruption (GBC) which may be taken for granted to be negligible but actually present to a considerable extent. When not addressed, it may cause as devastating consequences which are beyond the other known forms of corruption.

Even though in Rwanda both gender and corruption are high on the political agenda, the concept of GBC for a long time did not attract the legislator’s attention, nor was it the subject of any research. However, some empirical evidence had proved that the issue was not unknown in the country, prompting Transparency International Rwanda (TI-Rw) to carry out a comprehensive survey on gender-based corruption in work places. The research, supported by Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) through the Public Policy Information Monitoring and Advocacy (PPIMA) Project, was initiated at the end of 2010 and its findings were published and presented to the public in August 2011.

The study unveiled that this form of corruption does exist in Rwanda and its scale is far from negligible.

The research also provided a number of interesting details behind this practice, such as young women searching for a job are most affected, the private sector is the most at risk and the majority of victims did not report their cases.

The publication of the research findings in August 2011 created a huge impact, showing the extent at which this issue impacts on the victim and the society as a whole. Many media outlets gave a lot of attention to the findings, writing articles about it or inviting TI-Rw staff to participate in radio shows dedicated to this issue.

A citizen informed is a citizen engaged: TI-RW crisscrossed the country for public awareness on GBC

Several months after the publication of the study, TI-Rw was still receiving requests to give interviews or to present the findings.

However, this attention was almost exclusively focused on Kigali and hence the need to disseminate the findings of the research beyond Kigali city, reach out to other areas of the country, sensitize citizens and enterprises at local level and carry out advocacy in decentralized authorities as such type of corruption is not limited to the capital, was necessary.

10 districts from all provinces of the country were chosen for sensitization and advocacy campaign. Thus, activities were successfully organized in the districts of Nyanza, Muhanga and Nyamagabe in Sothern province, Ngoma and Nyagatare in Eastern Province, Gicumbi and Musanze in Northern Province and Karongi, Rubavu and Rusizi in Western Province.

GBC advocacy activities were organized in two different phases. On the one hand, the findings were presented to relevant stakeholders, discussed and recommendations and measures were formulated to mitigate GBC in the above mentioned districts while on the other hand, radio talk shows were held on 8 community radios where citizens were invited to participate in one hour live talk-show and make calls or send SMS to give their own views of the situation. This gave the audience the possibility to call in and ask questions, tell stories and denounce cases of GBC they had ever experienced or witnessed.

 

To implement this activity, TI-Rw teams were joined by different stakeholders that share the responsibility of fighting GBC. They included the Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), the Office of the Ombudsman, the National Labour Commission and the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) representatives to emphasize the need to implement the research recommendations.

Other materials produced during the research including  a documentary film were shown to participants to share with them some of the testimonies from victims of GBC prior or after research finding presentations.

Key data from the research findings:

Personal experience of GBC at the workplace

Behaviour vis-à-vis cases of GBC

  • 48.1% of employees having experienced GBC did nothing

Victims of GBC at workplace per sex

Consequences of GBC at the workplace

About 500 citizens participated in the sharing meetings organized in the 10 districts targeted and another large number has been reached out through radio talk shows organized in the visited districts where more people participated.

Outcomes of the campaign

During these activities regarding the advocacy on Gender Based Corruption at the Work Place, new different points of views, suggestions and recommendations were formulated and discussed. Among other recommendations, participants proposed:

1. At the national level, all the inspectors of labor should be sensitized on GBC so that when the employees report those complaints, the inspectors are aware of this crime;

2. Clear policies and guidelines (on recruitment, promotion, evaluation etc) which are in place in the public sector should also be introduced to the private sector because employees of the private sector also need protection against GBC;

3. Most of the time, audits focus on financial issues, they should also focus on human resource management to find out how recruitment, promotion, evaluation, opportunities etc. are managed;

4. Mechanisms to assure the victims of the confidentiality of their information should be put in place in order to encourage them to report their evidence;

5. The Government should instruct all public and especially private sector institutions to always give a written employment contract to help preventing abuses related to GBC;

6. There should be Gender based lessons in schools to allow students discuss gender issues including GBC;

7. These GBC findings should be disseminated into the informal sector where this scourge is most common and to other sectors most affected like hotels, restaurants and bars where most employees have no contracts;

8. Sensitize citizens through sketches and media to encourage victims of GBC to report and give information about perpetrators so that appropriate action may be taken against them;

9. Put in place an organic law governing GBC related crimes;

10. Promote and encourage sexual education in families;

11. TI-Rw should produce leaflets summarizing GBC findings and translate them into Kinyarwanda, French and English and distribute them in schools, local authorities and government institutions in order to raise more awareness;

12. Public and private institutions should put in place a GBC focal person who should collaborate with TI-Rw regarding the awareness of employees and employers against this form of corruption and the need to report it.

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