Violence against Women Exacts High Economic Price, World Bank Says

November 25, 2013

New research should mobilize greater investment to tackle epidemic

WASHINGTON, November 25, 2013 - Violence against women in the home comes at a high economic as well as human cost, new research from the World Bank Group (WBG) finds.

“Domestic violence isn’t just an egregious human rights abuse. It’s also an economic drain. This research should help to mobilize far greater investment in addressing and tackling domestic violence,” WBG Gender and Development Director Jeni Klugman said in a statement to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

“The need for systemic responses by governments and the international community to prevent and address violence against women is urgent and long overdue. Progress on this front would support efforts to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity.”

New research, prepared for a forthcoming World Bank Group report on challenges to gender equality, shows domestic violence has a significant impact on a country’s GDP.

This underscores that the loss due to domestic violence is a significant drain on an economy’s resources. Violence against women and girls is a global epidemic, with devastating consequence for individuals, communities, societies, and economies. Addressing this challenge head-on promises to significantly advance our efforts to end extreme poverty and increase prosperity for all,” Klugman said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than one-third of women worldwide (some 35 percent) experience gender-based violence over the course of their lives. This ranges from about 37 percent in women in the WHO African, Eastern Mediterranean, and South-East Asia regions to 23 percent in the high-income region and 25 percent in the European and Western Pacific Regions.

Globally, conservative estimates of lost productivity resulting from domestic violence range from 1.2 of GDP in Brazil and Tanzania to 2 percent of GDP in Chile. And those figures don’t include costs associated with long-term emotional impact and second-generation consequences. One study estimates total costs linked to domestic violence for the United Kingdom, including reduced well-being, at 10 percent of GDP.

The World Bank Group has identified gender-based violence as a frontier area in which development initiatives could have transformational impacts.


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