Archive for the 'Peoples Empowerment' Category

Resilience in Kabul: Afghans Take on Corruption to Rebuild their Country

“I have a life in Kabul,” insisted Seema Ghani, Executive Director of the Monitoring Evaluation Committee (MEC), a joint Afghan and international body dedicated to transparency and accountability in Afghanistan. Ms. Ghani explained that, despite the many challenges that Afghans face, significant progress has been made towards stabilizing parts of the country. She argued that Westerners forget that people are trying and, in her experience, succeeding in getting on with their lives.

On Friday at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Brasilia, representatives from government, civil society, and the military held a press conference on the achievements and challenges of fighting corruption in Afghanistan. Panelists shared their unexpected success stories in dealing with the Afghan government as well as their concerns about the politics at home and abroad.

“I admit that I was considering resigning until March of this year,” reflected Ms. Ghani. “But then I started to see the progress with my own eyes. I decided to continue and since I’ve seen 98% of our benchmarks implemented.”

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Empowering Women to Fight Corruption

Authored by: Yolaan Begbie and Piero Locatelli

Corruption affects everyone. Young, old, men, women, black, white, rich and poor. But some groups are more vulnerable than others. In many parts of the world, it’s women. From seeking employment and enrolling their children in schools, to accessing basic services and becoming land owners – many grassroots women experience corruption in their daily lives. It’s a reality documented in a UNDP report titled “Seeing Beyond the State: Grassroots Women’s Perspectives on Corruption and Anti-Corruption”.

Some key findings of UNDP report include:

  • The burden of bribery falls most heavily on women of caregiving age
  • Women view all public agencies as corruption
  • Bribery occurs in all areas of engagement with public agencies
  • Grassroots women perceive group-affiliated leaders to be more accountable
  • Organized women are empowered to fight corruption

Empowerment is exactly why Ugandan Joyce Nangobi, a 54-year-old woman from Uganda, started the Slum Women’s Initiative for Development (SWID) in 2003 with three others. Thirty women were later mobilized to join their efforts, and nearly 10 years on, they’ve grown to over 500 members. “It started as a necessity,” says Nangobi. At the time, families were illegally being evicted from their homes, and with many women widowed or with their husbands away working in urban areas, they were left to fend for themselves and their children. “Many women were uneducated and illiterate. They were not aware of their rights, and didn’t know that they could stop authorities from evicting them”.

Workshop: "Mainstreaming Gender and Incorporating Grassroots Women's Perspectives" in Global Anti-Corruption Initiatives and Agendas

 

SWID now holds paralegal training on land ownership and property rights. Women are educated on what they’re entitled to, and warned about paying money to government officials who promise title deeds and then never follow-through. Nangobi has experienced this first hand. In February this year she paid the fees for documents to prove ownership. The official told her she would have the papers within two weeks. Nine months later, she has nothing to show. Nangobi is now fighting to get the title deeds, armed with knowledge she has.

Others, she says, are not as lucky. Like Sylvia Nalubowa. Pregnant with twins, Nalubowa went to her local hospital when she started having contractions. She was reportedly turned away by nurses who allegedly demanded money to call the doctor. The story goes that Nalubowa couldn’t afford to pay them. She was left unattended and died. “What the nurses did was wrong,” says Nangobi, “but we have to look at the cause, not the symptom.”

“If government paid our public healthcare workers a decent salary they wouldn’t need to solicit bribes. I believe that’s the cause that ignites corruption, and it’s grassroots communities that suffer.”

But they are at work too. Changing their and their communities’ lives. It now needs to be upscaled, as concluded during a panel held on the issue at the 15th IACC. “Ask what they need. It’s not always money. Sometimes it’s just training,” said one participant. Through training, comes empowerment. Through empowerment comes the means to fight corruption.

Tawakkol Karman’s message to IACC attendees

Yemeni revolutionary and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkol Karman roused the IACC crowd today with a speech about supporting movements for freedom, especially those in the Arab World. The activist, who is often called the “Mother of the Revolution” in her country, called the IACC crowd “very important people who represent the most important NGOs around the world who are fighting corruption.”

 



Photo credit: Young Journalist Virginie Nguyen Hoang

A new generation of anti-corruption efforts

Big change doesn’t always make global headlines.

Just ask Paul Hilder, the Vice President of Global Campaigns at online petition site Change.org. He sees ordinary citizens fight for extraordinary change every day – largely under the mainstream radar. At the opening plenary of the 15 IACC, Hilder shared one such story, of a young man from Bihar, India, whose tale unfolded when he went to get a driver’s license last year.

Paul Hilder (center) speaks at the opening plenary of the 15 IACC. To his left is Sanjay Pradhan, Vice President of the World Bank Institute; to his right is Daniel Kauffan, President of Revenue Watch. Photo credit: Virginie Nguyen Hoang

When the young man, a student, entered the public office, officials demanded a bribe. The man refused and was beaten. Unbeknownst to officials, the young man had recorded the incident on his phone. He shared it with a friend who started a campaign on change.org. Within days, 440 people had signed the petition. Because of the buzz, a collector disciplined the official and reforms were put in place. > Read full story

Filipinos give Lessons in push for Openness

Filipino parents unhappy with the way their children’s schools are being run now have a ready remedy: sending an email or text to the website checkmyschool.org.

The site has a scrolling list of user complaints, ranging from a computer shortage in an elementary school to allegations – supported by a photo – that another institution is putting pupils’ health at risk by allowing rubbish to pile up.

“[The site gives] real-time feedback on whether teachers and textbooks are showing up in schools – and it’s putting pressure on government to respond,” said Sanjay Pradhan, a vice-president of the World Bank, which is supporting the project run by the education ministry and civil society groups.

In its simplicity, accessibility and exploitation of the raw power of information, the checkmyschool.org initiative reflects a growing enthusiasm internationally for grassroots approaches to tackling graft. Aided by social media, activists are using revealing data to harness a widespread public frustration with governments manifested in events ranging from Arab world revolts to the Occupy protests.  > Read full story

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