Commonwealth study reveals true cost of violence against women and girls

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Seychelles loses over USD 65 million each year to violence against women and girls (VAWG). That’s according to a new report to be launched by the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland on her first official visit to the country.

The report breaks new ground by capturing how direct costs of violence, such as loss of income, can lead to much larger impact in the economy.

The pilot study in Seychelles, along with upcoming trials in Lesotho and Trinidad and Tobago, will help develop a valuable economic costing tool which all Commonwealth countries can use in their policy making decisions.

“I congratulate the government of Seychelles for their willingness to be a pioneer in this field and for working with the Secretariat on developing and piloting new ways to measure the economic costs of VAWG,” said Secretary General Scotland. “This study will help us to better understand the costs of violence, increase our willingness to act, and support the appropriate responses in policy-making and programme interventions.”

Prior research by the Social Affairs Department and National Bureau of Statistics shows 58 per cent of women in Seychelles have experienced some form of gender-based violence at least once in their lifetime.

While cases remain seriously under-reported, Commonwealth experts estimate losses due to VAWG at 1.2 per cent of local GDP in direct costs, and 4.6 per cent of GDP in overall economic impact. For example, a victim of violence missing work leads to a loss of income, which results in less spending, ultimately carrying a negative impact on commodity demand and supply of goods and services.

Through an economy-wide model, the report better reflects the true impact of violence against women and girls.

“The findings of this report will support policy making, through strong responses that cut across all sectors, said Amelia Kinahoi Siamomua, head of the Gender Section at the Commonwealth Secretariat.

“This may include reforming or creating new gender sensitive policies, rolling out communication strategies, sourcing funds to support programmes, and training local actors. Using our research and the way data is collected, governments may wish to see whether monitoring and evaluation systems can be improved. The report provides ways to explore the best policy options practices.”

The launch of the report will be the first event scheduled on the Secretary-General’s visit to Seychelles, which coincides with the country’s 42nd independence anniversary.

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