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Violence against women a threat to economic development: IMF report

Successive closures during the COVID-19 pandemic across the world have seen an increase in domestic violence cases. The abuse of girls and women is a major threat to economic development, a study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found. Taking the case of sub-Saharan Africa, the report highlighted an increase in physical, sexual and emotional abuse of women during the pandemic.

Nigeria has seen a 130% increase in the number of reported cases of gender-based violence during the closures. Europe was far from spared, with Croatia reporting a 228% increase in rapes in the first five months of 2020 compared to 2019.

“The results of our study suggest that a 1 percentage point increase in violence against women is associated with a 9% lower level of economic activity,” said Rasmane Ouedraogo and David Stenzel, who conducted the study.

Previous studies have shown that domestic violence can cause a loss of 1 to 2% of GDP.

Violence against women can have a short and long term effect on the overall health of an economy.

In the short term, abused people are likely to be less productive and work fewer hours, while in the long term, domestic violence can reduce the number of women in the workforce, according to the report. As a result, more public resources are likely to be devoted to health and justice services.

Higher levels of abuse are associated with lower economic activity and lower employment for women. Physical, psychological and emotional torture makes it difficult for women to keep jobs, according to the report.

IMF research studies data from the United States Agency for International Development’s Demographic and Health Survey from the 1980s to the present day and also assesses responses from more than 440,000 women in 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. .

More than 30% of those polled have experienced some kind of domestic violence in the region, according to the survey.

If countries in sub-Saharan Africa reduced the level of gender-based violence to the global average of 23%, they would see a long-term GDP gain of around 30%, according to the report.

In countries like South Africa, where the gender gap in education is smaller and where women have more decision-making power, the economic costs of violence against women are lower .

Besides strengthening laws and protections against domestic violence, countries should focus on improving educational opportunities for girls, he said.

(Edited by : Shoma bhattacharjee)

First publication: STI


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