ADDIS ABABA, The empowerment and effective participation of women as well as the protection of their rights are critical to fighting corruption, says Ethiopia’s Minister for Women’s and Children’s Affairs, Demitu Hambisa.

Addressing the opening of the 10th African Union (AU) Gender Pre-Summit meeting at the AU heqadquarters here Wednesday, she said corruption hindered the social, economic and political development of a country.

The Minister stated that gender inequality and corruption go hand in hand in many ways and feed each other. “Where there is gender inequality, corruption flourishes; and where there is corruption, gender inequality flares,” she stressed.

Thus, we should win the fight against corruption to ensure gender equality and women empowerment in our continent.”

The chairperson of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Gender and Women Empowerment, Dr. Jean A. N. Kalilani, said the achievement of gender equality and women empowerment could not be realized in the wake of rampant corruption which the African region was experiencing.

According to her, corruption disproportionately affected the poor, especially women and the huge adverse impact of corruption on women and vulnerable groups calls for concerted efforts to ensure that the malpractice is addressed in member states”.

Representing the continent’s International Development Partners, Canadian Ambassador Philip Baker said the collective efforts to empower and improve the lives of women would not be effective unless corruption was successfully addressed.

Citing the 2016 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Africa Human Development Report, Baker pointed out that the lower participation rates of women in African economies was costing the continent more than 100 billion US dollars annually, or equivalent to 6.0 per cent of the combined gross domestic product.

An enabling legislative and political environment must be fostered so that both men and women can engage in various levels of government without fear, he stressed.

The two-day meeting is expected to come up with a proposal of concrete actions that accelerate the fight against gender related issues, notably in the areas of corruption.