The WhatWorks to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) project, in collaboration with the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana School of Public Health and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection on Monday 10th December 2018 held a one-day stakeholders dissemination event for the dissemination of research findings: Economic and Social Costs of Violence Against Women and Girls and Impacts Assessment of COMBATs Violence Prevention Intervention at the ISSER Conference facility.
In an opening remark by Susan Mensah, Social Development Advisor at the Department for International Development, she explained that WhatWorks to Prevent VAWG Programme is a flagship programme from the UK Department for International Development which is investing in the prevention of violence against women and girls. The program focuses on generating evidence to understand what works to prevent violence against women and girls. Susan Mensah encouraged that in order to achieve economic stability and development, advocates, media and leaders should come together to prevent VAWG which also falls under the SDG goal 5.
In the presentation of the research findings, Prof. Felix Ankomah Asante, director of ISSER explained the Economic and Social costs of Violence against Women and Girls in Ghana. Per the research, violence against women and girls are prevalent in Ghana and are usually caused by partners, family members, work colleagues, school administrators, peers or strangers in public places at least in the past 12 months. He also elaborated on the types of VAWG which are economic, psychological, physical and sexual violence.
According to the research findings, these types of violence result in household and business losses. However, violence experienced by women remains invisible as many women do not disclose the violence to anyone. According to the findings, only 11% of women experiencing violence sought help from any formal services. The most important impact of the VAWG is their ability to work. The loss of productivity is measured in two ways; absenteeism and presentism. Absenteeism is the number of days a woman missed work because of the experienced violence while presentism is the number of days a woman was less productive at work because of the experience of violence. In all, the economy loses working days equivalent to 4.5% of its female workforce due to VAWG.
Businesses incurred costs because of VAWG. Across 100 businesses surveyed, 4836 person days were lost, equivalent to 20 women employees not working or about 1.01% of the female labour force among these companies not working.
To sum up, Prof. Felix Asante recommended that awareness is created on the economic and social cost of VAWG. He further explained that there should also be improved recognition within policy of non-physical forms of violence such as psychological and economic violence. It was additionally suggested that communities be sensitized on using formal institutions to address VAWG concerns.
Dorcas Coker-Appiah, Executive Director of Gender Center presented on the Community Based Action Teams (COMBAT) intervention which aims to reduce all forms of VAWG in rural communities in Ghana, protect women’s rights via state and community structures; and, raise public awareness about the causes and consequences of VAWG. The intervention was carried out by men and women from the community who were selected and trained on types, causes and impact of VAWG, and provided support to victims with access to justice and services from relevant social institutions.
Dr. Deda Ogum Alangea of the University of Ghana, School of Public Health commended the COMBAT intervention team who led to prevent VAWG in four districts of the Central Region. The aim of the intervention was to assess the community level impact of the Gender Center’s Rural Response System in reducing violence against women in Ghana. In all, COMBAT intervention showed benefit for 18minths of intervention delivery with a total number of 25,085 people who have been reached through the effort.
Stories and testimonies of some beneficiaries of the COMBAT intervention were shared as well as that of some COMBAT volunteers.