Launch of Report on Economic and Social Costs of Violence Against Women and Girls in Pakistan
New research highlighting the significant economic and social costs of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in Pakistan was released on June 15 in Islamabad. The research, funded by UK aid as part of its global What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls programme, found that violence against women places a significant social and economic burden on women and their families. Dr. Yasmin Zaidi, Director, Centre of Gender and Policy Analysis, in her keynote speech stated that VAWG undermines the wellbeing and quality of life for women and their families, which has long-term consequences for our social life. She said that there is a need to build VAWG prevention into national development policies, including by mainstreaming evidence-based violence prevention approaches into education, health, social protection and other sectors, to reduce this heavy cost to societies.
The research was undertaken by the National University of Ireland, Galway in collaboration with Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC), Ipsos MORI, and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) revealed the scale of VAWG-related losses to the economy. Sharing the key findings of the study, Muhammad Sabir, Principal Economist SPDC stated that the national loss in productivity through women missing work and/or being less productive at work due to VAWG was 80 million days annually, equivalent to 2.2% of employed women not working in a year. The research also highlighted that VAWG undermines household wellbeing and deepens household poverty. Women survivors who accessed services and reported incurring expenses spent US$52 annually on average. That is equivalent to 19% of their annual per capita expenditure on non-food consumption.
There was an equally high burden on households’ quality of life. Survivors of violence were unable to carry out daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, caring for children, or washing and pressing for the equivalent of nearly 15 days in the previous 12 months (nearly 1 month per year). Nationally, this adds up to nearly 11 million days of lost care work per year. Additionally, school children of women experiencing violence missed over 2.4 million school days.
A new aspect studied for the first time through this research in Pakistan is the impact of violence against women on businesses. The study found that violence both within and outside of the home affects the bottom line of businesses. Violence affects the productivity of all male and female employees. One in seven female employees reported productivity loss as a result of violence, equal to 17 days work each on average in the past year. One out every 30 male employees reported productivity loss equal to 20 days of work on average in the past year due to perpetrating violence against their partners.
Earlier, in her welcome speech, Ms Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Vice Chairperson SPDC said that the research underscores the importance of understanding the economic impacts of violence against women and its serious consequences for the wider economy.
Dr Kausar S Khan, Professor and Head of Division of Behavioural & Social Sciences at Aga Khan University in her closing remarks said “This research is highly innovative and sets a new agenda for key stakeholders working on the issue of violence against women including government, formal institutions in public and private sector, universities and women’s organisations to explore more deeply the economic and social costs of violence against women.”
Dr Nata Duvvury of NUI Galway and overall Principal Investigator commented: “This research lays out in simple terms the heavy burden that VAWG places on economic activity in any country. It demonstrates that preventing violence is necessary and important to integrate into Government policies and budgets on a priority basis to secure Pakistan’s prosperity and guide the economy in a sustainable and inclusive path.”