U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.


What are the linkages between gender and illicit financial flows?


Illicit financial flows (IFFs) are increasingly understood as one of the greatest challenges to global development. Interestingly, while much attention is paid to gendered aspects of development overall, there are very few studies exploring the extent to which women are affected by and involved in IFFs. The links between gender and IFFs can be investigated from three main perspectives: i) how IFFs specifically affect women; ii) the roles women play in IFFs; and iii) how women can help curb IFFs.

Main points

  • IFFs reduce public resources available for service provision and programmes focused on gender equality. This disproportionally affects women.

  • To make up for money lost to IFFs, states frequently levy consumption taxes which also put a disproportionate burden on women.

  • Women and men are also differently affected by the sources of IFF, particularly corruption and human trafficking.

  • The question of how women participate in IFFs needs further research. While studies show that women are less likely to condone corruption, tax evasion and crime, examples show that there are women who play prominent roles in all these illicit acts.

  • Women’s role in countering IFFs has not been explored in much detail. Yet, it is well known that women can play an important role to counter corruption, which is an important element of reducing IFFs.


  1. Background
  2. How do IFFs affect women and gender equality?
  3. How might women participate in IFF?
  4. The role of women in countering IFFs
  5. References


Ortrun Merkle


Marie Chêne, Transparency International and Monica Kirya, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre




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