Gender-based violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread human rights violations. It is an expression of the unequal power relations between genders and hinders social and economic development. Recent studies from diverse parts of the world are now estimating the economic impact of violence against women.
All of these studies come to the conclusion that violence against women causes also enormous monetary loss to society, not only related to social or health issues, but also generates tremendous opportunity costs that threatens macroeconomic development. The question is: How can we on one side measure these costs and on the other side use them to involve companies to prevent violence against women and girls?
- Violence against women in the workplace can have a significant cost to businesses in Latin America.
- A lack of empirical studies in the past made the costs difficult to quantify.
- Businesses that have prevention and support programmes see an improved bottom line, lower staff turnover and lower absenteeism.
- Business reputation is improved through certification and a government-awarded seal of corporate social responsibility.
Gender-based violence against women and girls is sometimes described as a global pandemic. According to the Copenhagen Consensus Center, partner violence against women is by far more costly to society than war or terror.
New studies have revealed that such violence hinders not only social development, but also economic productivity. This impact on businesses represents an opportunity to improve the situation – if companies can be persuaded of the value of tackling violence against women, they can be a big part of the solution.
In Latin America, ComVoMujer – a regional programme commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) – has been working to get businesses involved with other social actors, including academia, local authorities, civil society and government in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay.
Initially, there was no demand and a great deal of resistance from the private sector. Companies showed no interest,
Although Paraguay is a mostly rural country, violence against women is a predominantly urban phenomenon for various complex social reasons.
Additional strategies to combat violence against women are being pursued by ComVoMujer in schools and universities.