Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The socially negative phenomenon of corruption is widespread and destructive, affecting nations all over the globe. It stifles economic growth, erodes public confidence in governmental structures, and undermines democracy. Anti-corruption initiatives -be it governmental on non-governmental, national, or international- are essential in this battle, because they encourage transparency and accountability, while also holding the abusers accountable.
Women in particular are disproportionately affected by corruption. They are more likely to be the victims of extortion, including also in ‘heavy industries’, such as finance, law and politics. Corruption also exacerbates gender inequality, limiting women’s access to resources and opportunities and perpetuating gender-based violence.
Women: a special force in the fight against corruption
This is why it is essential to include women in the fight against corruption, as they bring a unique perspective and experience to the table.
Women have proven their strength and tenacity in anti-corruption initiatives, despite the difficulties they encounter in societies where men predominate. Is it because women, more often than men perhaps, focus on the goal rather than on the glory?
Brussels Morning sat with Dr. Anna Damaskou, a Greek anti-corruption professional who, for the past 20 years of her life, has served in numerous national and international posts, unexceptionally pursuing the goal rathen than the glory.
Brussels Morning has been chasing her for a profile interview ever since its establishment in 2020, as shortly before that, in her then capacity as Chair of the Greek Chapter of Transparency International, the Financial Times had enlisted her as one of the ‘Six Women to Watch in Greece’, in illustrating the portraits of high-achieving female figures who helped the post-crisis country restore its global standing. Thereafter, each time she was asked for an interview by Brussels Morning, a columnist of which she was also herself in the recent past, she refused, on the grounds that the focus should be on the fight and not on the figure.
Instead of resting in her glory and using her numerous achievements for personal gain, every now and then, Anna opts to make new starts, as the most humble soldier, in this never-ending fight against corruption. She was, therefore, finally convinced for this interview, under the condition that the focus shall be on anti-corruption and women, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.
Female empathy as an effective anti-corruption tool
‘Women involved in organizations very often challenge traditional power structures – this is the first step to good governance’, she states and immediately adds ‘women are more sensitive to issues of social injustice and have a greater understanding of the impact that corruption has on marginalized communities, as women themselves are more often the victims of marginalization. This perspective is essential in developing effective anti-corruption strategies that address the needs of all citizens, particularly of the most vulnerable ones’.
’Women’s involvement in anti-corruption organizations can also be a powerful tool for promoting gender equality. Women challenge gender norms and can, thus, build more inclusive and equitable societies, when they are offered leadership positions and chances to engage in decision-making processes. They also act as mentors and role models for other women, motivating and enabling them to take initiative in the battle against corruption. More in particular, women’s involvement in anti-corruption organizations can help create sustainable change’ are some of Anna’s personal beliefs.
She rejects that women are more capable than men in building relationships and networks based on trust and collaboration, which is critical for the fight against corruption, but admits that ‘women bring a level of empathy and emotional intelligence, that is often lacking in anti-corruption efforts. This approach helps to counteract the isolation and fear that corruption may create and builds solidarity among those who seek change.’
The path to a world governed by values and ethics is paved with high heels
‘When ‘’high heels’’ find themselves on ‘’high hills’’, they should always bear in mind the added value that their gender can bring in their decision-making and most importantly that they have a role to play in allowing all ‘’high hills’’ worlwide to be accessed by ‘’high heels’’, Anna stresses, as she leaves our coffee table with a sigh of relief, for she hates interviews…of all kinds.