UN to hear that global epidemic of violence against women has dire economic consequences

May 26 2016 Posted: 13:09 CDT


With one in three women worldwide experiencing abuse, violence against women is a global epidemic. The economic cost of this violence will be discussed by current and former women Heads of State and Government at the UN Headquarters in New York today.

Dr Nata Duvvury, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway, will be acting as an expert advisor at the High Level Discussion on Economic Costs of Violence against Women (VAW). Dr Duvvury’s groundbreaking work on the costs of violence against women has gained international recognition, cited by Hilary Clinton, Mary Robinson, World Bank economist Caren Grown, by UN Women, and international donor agencies and cited in numerous journal articles.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Duvvury said: “Violence against women is a fundamental human rights violation, a priority public health issue and a development issue with significant implications for economic growth.

In studies in Australia, UK, or Vietnam where women’s labour force participation rates are high, the costs of violence are reflected in absenteeism and productivity loss. In Vietnam the productivity loss was equivalent to 1.79% of GDP. A study in the Peru on the costs to businesses estimated that overall 70 million workdays were lost in a year due to the impacts of violence on women’s and men’s absenteeism and presenteeism (being late, leaving early, not concentrating, etc.). Both the Vietnam and Peru studies found that intimate partner violence also had an impact on men, which is an important insight to highlight.

Policymakers must recognise the ripple effects of violence against women across various sections of society and businesses, to understand that the effects/impacts of VAW do not stop at the factory door but seep into every nook and cranny of the production system. We need commitment from world leaders to invest to prevent and respond to VAW.”

The panel was called by The President of the Republic of Lithuania, H.E. Dalia Grybauskaitė, as Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, to discuss the economic impact of VAW during the High Level Week of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly in September 2016.

In addition to Dr Duvvury, Ms Jurgita Pečiūrienė, Gender Expert at the European Institute for Gender equality, will be presenting expert evidence. The panel includes Heads of State and Government and International Organisations including: the Presidents of the Republic of Chile, Lithuania, Malta, Croatia and the Prime Minister of Namibia; H.E. Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization; Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General, The Commonwealth; Ms Sivana Koch-Mehrin, Founder of the Women in Parliaments Global Form; and Ms Laura Liswood, Secretary-General, Council of Women World Leaders.

Building on more than 20 years of international engagement and gender-focussed research at the cutting edge of HIV, women’s asset ownership, nutrition and gender based violence, Dr Duvvury has made seminal contributions to the policy discourse on gender, equality, health and empowerment.

At the High Level Discussion, Dr Duvvury will be making the argument that violence against women and girls has cumulative impacts over the life-time of individuals undermining individual capability resulting in overall economic loss over time.