Researchers from NUIG recently presented the finding of the What Works to Prevent Violence project, which highlighted the massive economic cost of failing to prevent violence against women.
The research found that violence against women has serious opportunity and productivity costs, leading to women resigning from leadership positions due to stigma, and changing their work patterns
Funded by the UK’s Department for International Development as part of its global programme to prevent violence against women, What Works focused on Ghana, Pakistan and South Sudan.
The study’s lead author Dr Nata Duvvury from NUIG’s Centre for Global Women’s Studies said that doing nothing to prevent violence places a huge economic burden, not just on women, but on the wider country.
“Governments must be cognizant of the invisible costs violence imposes on countries, a cost that can be wiped out through effective action.”
In South Sudan, the impact of violence on productivity meant that, in effect, employed women in businesses lost 10 working days per year in addition to their usual annual leave.
While in Ghana the economic cost from absenteeism caused by abuse alone amounts to 1% of the country’s GDP.
Here in Ireland, the total average economic cost of domestic abuse to a survivor was €115,790, from the onset of the abuse to their initial recovery.
This research was presented at an event on ‘Violence Against Women and Girls: Accelerating Efforts to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals 5 on Gender Equality’ held at NUIG.
The event marked both International Women’s Day, as well as the conclusion of the What Works Project, emphasising that all governments, including the Ireland’s, need to take steps to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in relation to gender equality.
What Works was a collaboration between NUI Galway and Safe Ireland, a non-profit dedicated to making Ireland a safer place for women and children.
Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland, said that any future Programme for Government should prioritise measures to meet the SDG targets of 2030.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations’ Member States in 2015, identifies 17 key goals, one of which is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, with combating violence being a core component.
It should focus on preventative measures to tackle the roots causes of violence, she said, as well as investing in infrastructure to help survivors of abuse.
With these “we can begin to systematically erase the structural barriers which keep women, and their children trapped in controlling and abusive relationships,” Sharon said.
“This joined-up approach would also address the social and economic cost to Irish society caused by violence.”
“We know this is achievable, but it needs leadership with the combined effort of all sectors in order to realise the SDGs and make Ireland a more just and equal society.”