Expert warns on cutbacks to crisis supports for women

Economic effect trails in wake of social impact, says leading NUI Galway authority

Dr Nata Duvvury, global women’s studies director at NUI Galway: “Violence in society further pulls down an economy’s capacity to recover from crisis.” Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Dr Nata Duvvury, global women’s studies director at NUI Galway: “Violence in society further pulls down an economy’s capacity to recover from crisis.” Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

 

Governments that cut back on supports such as rape crisis counselling during times of economic crisis are “shooting themselves in the foot”, a global expert on women’s studies has said.

Violence against women and girls has a social and economic impact, according to NUI Galway global women’s studies centre director Dr Nata Duvvury, who is leading a new international research project charged with calculating the cost.

Dr Duvvury, a feminist economist, led a previous international study on the cost of domestic violence against women in Vietnam, where the estimated loss of productivity, out-of-pocket expenditures and forgone income for households represented about 3.19 per cent of gross domestic product.

Studies in Chile, Nicaragua and Vietnam had also showed that the earnings of women who experienced violence were lower than those who didn’t, by about 35 per cent.

Although focusing on three developing countries – Ghana, Pakistan and South Sudan – the findings will have implications for all countries, including Ireland, where cuts associated with austerity hit support services for victims of violence, she said.

Participants

London-based Ipsos and the International Centre for Research on Women in Washington DC are participants with NUIG on the €2 million, three-year research, which will involve interviewing more than 4,500 women in three developing countries.

The immediate impacts of those who experience violence are missing work – paid and unpaid – along with poor physical and mental health, poor reproductive outcomes, out-of-pocket expenditures for accessing services, and replacement costs for lost property, the project team said.

It also has long-term impacts on education, expanding skills, experience and upward mobility within the workforce, chronic disability and morbidity, and stability of family life.

It results in “low community cohesion, loss of economic output for businesses and expenditures incurred by national and local non-governmental organisations”, the team said.

Lower economic output

Governments incur costs in both providing services to survivors – and, to varying degrees, perpetrators – of violence, investing in programmes to prevent violence, and loss of taxes due to lower income for households and lower economic output for businesses, Dr Duvurry said.

“Violence in society further pulls down an economy’s capacity to recover from crisis, or affects the impact on promoting economic development,”she said.

“We want to demonstrate that the cost is not just to the individual, but that it has a ripple effect on men, the family and community also.”

The social accounting matrix used could analyse similar data across both developed and developing countries, she said, and would “break new ground”, she said.

The project is part of the British government’s department for international development’s investment of £25 million over five years.