Is corruption in civil service gender-specific?

Dec 1, 2014

Since July 2014, UNDP Ukraine has been assessing the gender equality-related corruption risks and vulnerabilities in the civil service in partnership with the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine. Within the study, a questionnaire survey with 100 officials of the Ministry, 4 focus-groups with the representatives of sectoral departments, and 2 in-depth interviews were held to find out whether the corruption in civil service is gender-specific. 

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are drivers of developmental progress. Specifically, shaping and building resilient, representative, responsive and democratic public administration based on gender equality and respect for human rights are central to UNDP’s mandate to promote gender-responsive and equally inclusive governance institutions.

Transition and institutional reforms in the countries of Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, despite some considerable gains, did not result in equal opportunities for men and women in civil service. Political and public institutions remain deeply entrenched in patriarchal culture. Women play a marginal role in public decision-making, and public administration institutions do not provide sufficient incentives to create a female-friendly work environment. Women are not encouraged  to commit and pursue professional careers in civil service. Furthermore, the lack of public accountability and transparency in the management of human resources in public sector institutions, corruption and lack of effective oversight mechanisms, gender-blind recruitment, and promotion procedures play a further detrimental role in building responsive and representative public institutions. To address the above mentioned issues the UNDP Europe and CIS Regional Center developed a survey methodology to help countries in the region ensure cleaner and more transparent operations within the civil service.

In 2014, this methodology is being piloted by UNDP Ukraine in partnership with the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine under support of the Global Anti-Corruption Initiative implemented by the UNDP Regional Centre for Europe and CIS, Istanbul. Similar effort is taking place in two other countries in the region.

The purpose of the pilot is to survey the male and female civil service employees on their experiences and perceptions of corruption risk and vulnerabilities within the civil service recruitment and promotion (including the impacts of a lack of transparency and corruption on recruitment and career development of male and female civil service employees).

The engaged experts – Yuliya Galustian and Nataliya Kovalchuk – used a methodology adapted to the national context, held information sessions with the officials working in the Ministry to discuss issues of gender and anti-corruption, facilitated completion of the questionnaire survey by 100 respondents, and held focus group discussions devoted to the topic.

The draft country survey report was prepared as the result of the study and presented on November 28th during the meeting at the Ministry. According to the survey, 40% of respondents consider that corruption in the civil service in Ukraine is widespread to a large extent, and 36% think it is widespread. Most frequently mentioned types of corruption, according to the surveyed staff, are obtaining undue advantage (bribery), abuse of power or position, illicit enrichment of public official and nepotism, favouritism and patronage. As for the gender aspects of the issue, it was concluded that men are closer to corruption in Ukraine simply because statistically more men occupy high posts in the state institutions (86.5% men vs 13.5% women at managerial positions in the state institutions).

More than half of respondents agree that women and men have the same procedures for promotion, and only 20% of officials believe that women and men have unequal opportunities for training and professional development. Officials who witnessed corrupt practices, said that these situations included the abuse of power or position, illicit enrichment of an official through receiving undue benefits (bribery), patronage or failure of administration to take anti-corruption measures.

Public officials need to improve their level of knowledge of anti-corruption policy; not all officials are satisfied with the quality and timeliness for receiving the necessary information. At the same time, for the vast majority of the surveyed state employees, there are no obstacles to getting acquainted with the rules, requirements and procedures that are particularly important for public service.

The draft report is available by the link, and comments may be sent to the e-mail address

It is expected that the conclusions and recommendations of the study will be useful to the Ministry in terms of upgrading its approaches to personnel management, implementing measures for adaptation of the civil service to EU standards and applying European tools of institutional development.

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