Women in business and leadership have been called on to consciously and actively participate in the fight against corruption. This call was made during the launch and dialogue of the Alliance for Integrity’s Women for Integrity Series (WISe) themed “The woman as an anti-corruption agent – the obstacles, challenges and opportunities”.
The event aimed at creating a platform that encouraged women participation in discussing and addressing corruption issues in their line of business or work. This was the first in a series of events to follow later in the year to actively engage women in specific sectors of the economy to discuss and proffer solutions to issues of corruption within their space. The event was organised in collaboration with the National Board of Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) and the Ghana Integrity Initiative; it targeted female entrepreneurs and workers, women working in compliance as well as the general public.
Giving the welcome address for the launch, Ms. Regina Bauerochse, Country Director of GIZ Ghana, lauded the initiative and urged participants and all women present to make good use of the platform to ensure it served its purpose.
Delivering the keynote address, the Executive Director of NBSSI, Ms. Kosi Yankey, acknowledged the challenges within the global and Ghanaian ecosystem that posed a threat to women involvement in sensitive topics of such nature. She noted that Ghana was amongst the leading countries in the world with the second highest percentage (37.9%) of women owned businesses based on the 2019 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs report. “It is crucial to view corruption with the gender lens to properly appreciate the existing disparities,” Yankey stated. It was evident that women engaged less in corruption which has been largely attributed to their altruistic nature and societal demand of a certain level of compliance. However, pointing to the contentions existing within available literature and research, she opined that there were still fewer women leaders and women in decision making roles in institutions that may fall prey to corruption. She thus urged for redress through strengthened legislations and laws, enforced transparency and accountability in recruitment processes, employee management and gender sensitive reporting mechanisms. In summarising her presentation, Ms Kosi Yankey called for the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill: “Its passage will be a boost for women empowerment and go a long way to promoting a responsible business ecosystem,” she opined.
Taking their turns to discuss on the topic “the gendered perspective to the fight against corruption” a panel of four women business owners and leaders shared their experience on women and anti-corruption.
On her part, Ms Miriam Badu, General Manager, North and West Africa Procter & Gamble Personal Healthcare, explained that major corruption scandals that rocked the nation had only 15% of women involvement, which emphasised the point that women were less corrupt. However, she noted that, female-owned businesses suffered the effects of not being corrupt, earning 23% less profits compared to their male counterparts (ICRW 2019). She expressed worry that some women owned businesses have had to fold up because they refused to be corrupt and this has led to loss of jobs, livelihoods and income. She therefore called for deliberate policies to support women businesses to flourish.
Ms. Regina Honu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Soronko Academy, taking her turn, shared her personal experiences as a woman business owner: “I lost business deals because I was not ready to compromise on integrity and because of the venue and times such business deals were organised, it prevented me from attending, partly because of societal stereotyping.” She emphasised that although opportunities existed for women to grow their businesses, certain inhibitive administrative bureaucracies prevented them from accessing these opportunities. She therefore advocated for a level playing field regarding transparency in accessing business opportunities, so that women businesses are able to grow. The Country Director of Enablis Ghana, Ms Shika Acolatse, added that although enough laws exist to curb corruption, there was the need for strict enforcement of these laws to empower women to seek justice when they have been treated unfairly. She advised against societal prejudices regarding women in business and leadership and made a strong case for the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill.
Ms. Helen Opoku Agyemang, Head of Controls, Compliance and Ethics at Guinness Ghana Limited, underscored the importance of women to understand the protocols within their business environment, and encouraged woman business owners to take keen interest to thoroughly understand their business processes so that they can avoid harassment from corrupt officials. She expressed the view that women in leadership positions is critical in ensuring the highest form of compliance in the business environment.
Delivering the closing statement of the event, the Executive Director of Ghana Integrity Initiative, Ms. Linda Ofori-Kwafo, expressed gratitude to all participants and stressed on the need for collective action against corruption, emphasising the key role of women in this fight. She therefore urged all to join the Alliance for Integrity’s Women for Integrity Series (WISe) engagement platforms, so that women voices will be heard on the issues of corruption and integrity. With these said, she declared the WISe platform as launched.
The Alliance for Integrity team extends its appreciation to all the speakers, panellists and moderator and their respective institutions: GIZ Ghana, NBSSI, Soronko Academy, Procter and Gamble (P&G), Enablis Ghana, Guinness Ghana Limited, Parliamentary Network Africa and GII for the support towards the event.
Authors: Christiana Gada & Gideon Mankralo