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18 Geo. J. Int'l Aff. 18 (2017)
Engendering Corruption: Gender and the Culture of Exchange in Central Asia

handle is hein.journals/geojaf18 and id is 125 raw text is: 



Gender and the
Culture of Exchange in
Central Asia

Yvonne   Corcoran-Nantes

   or   the most part, anti-corruption poli-

      cies have been strongly supported in
      developing countries, not least in view
of the fact that corruption in public life is
believed to impede economic development,
democratization, and gender equality. While
anti-corruption policies have made inroads
into government  accountability, which de-
creases levels of corruption and corrupt
practice, especially in the civil service, they
are unable to eliminate them altogether. Sur-
veys that focused on the attitude of men and
women   toward corruption as well as their
participation in corruption have unambigu-
ously found women   to be more critical of
corruption and far less engaged. Women are
likely to be on the periphery of the networks
and  spheres of influence that support rec-
ognized corrupt practices, and one might
argue that this is unsurprising. Women are
engaged in very different social networks in
which the exchange of favors and gifting are
cultural practices that offer pecuniary ad-
vantage to both the gift-giver and recipient.
What  constitutes corrupt practice when the
cultural context of reciprocal relationships
is imbued  within the lives of households
and communities? How   do we define some-
thing as corrupt when it is considered to be
a cultural practice and a survival strategy? Is

the cultural practice of reciprocity corrupt
wherein the bribe might be seen as a gift in
disguise or the gift as a bribe in disguise?
   The nexus between  gender and corrup-
tion has been explored and researched with
enthusiasm. Global data sets produced or
commissioned  by the World Survey Associa-
tion and Transparency International in the
1980s and 1990s investigated the incidence
of corruption around the world, focusing
on gender and  public life and, specifically,
gender differences in attitude toward and
engagement  in corruption.' Outcomes in-
dicated that gender differences clearly ex-
ist whereby women  appeared to have lower
levels of engagement  with and  tolerance
for corruption. Moreover, indications were
that greater levels of female participation in
public life would produce a decrease in the
levels of corruption in key areas of society.
This position was advocated for, justified
by, and disseminated in the World Bank re-
port entitled Engendering Development.2
However,  the notion held by leading IN-
GOs-that   by funding programs  that em-
power women   economically and politically,
one  might contribute to gender  equality
and the democratization of a country while
reducing levels of corruption-is both ide-
alistic and highly improbable.3 While most
work  in the field would support a positive


Yvonne Corcoran-Nantes is an associate professor in the School of Social and Policy Studies at Flinders University.
She is the head of the Discipline of Women's Studies.

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