Commission on Status of Women strengthens move to eliminate violence against women and girls

17 Mar 2013

imageWomen working on a solar oven in Chile. A study found that women’s lost earnings alone as a result of domestic violence cost the country more than 2 percent Gross Domestic Product.

New York – The 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) culminated on Friday (15 March) with Member States underlining their commitment that women and girls have the right to live a life free of violence, exploitation and abuse.

The priority theme of this year’s global gathering focused on measures to prevent and end violence against women and girls.

Gender-based violence harms women, girls, their families and communities and also hampers countries’ efforts to reduce poverty. 

Member States underscored that preventing and eliminating violence against women, which happens in all countries in multiple forms, requires leadership, political will and concrete actions.

Speaking at a high-level side event at CSW57, UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan pointed to the enormity of the pandemic of violence against women and girls, which in some countries is experienced by up to seven in 10 women at some point in their lives. 

This gender-based violence results in huge direct and indirect costs incurred by victims, their families and countries, including for health care and legal services, lost earning potential and productivity, and curtailed education and female participation in public life.

“There is one thing that will bring productivity up and costs down, and that is ending violence against women,” Ms Grynspan said. “That’s the development message we have to give.”

Ms Grynspan referred to a study in Chile that found that women’s lost earnings alone as a result of domestic violence cost US$1.56 billion or more than 2 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Research from Australia, Canada, England and Wales and the United States suggests that the annual costs of such violence (including a range of costs such as responses to survivors and lost productivity) varies from US$ 1.16 billion to 32.9 billion.

Ms Grynspan pointed out that despite the gravity of the issue and the huge impacts on development, addressing gender-based violence is not yet identified or prioritized as a critical component of strategies to boost economic growth.  She urged the audience to present ending violence against women as a way of increasing productivity and growth in their discussions with finance ministers and other policy-makers.

At the joint agency event, high-level representatives of UN agencies came together to underline their commitment to ending violence against women and girls. UN Women, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, OHCHR, UNAIDS, ILO and WHO released a Joint Statement which sent a strong, unified message that the plight to end violence against women and girls needs to be a priority on the international development agenda.

The Agreed Conclusions of this year’s Commission on the Status of Women support this approach by putting a strong emphasis on the continuum of prevention and multi-sectoral strategies, including through education and addressing gender-based inequalities in the economic, political and social spheres.

Member States acknowledged the importance of putting in place legislation, policies and multi-sectoral responses to prevent and end violence against women and girls.

Together with partners from the UN system, governments and civil society and women’s organizations, UNDP will continue to address gender-based violence and inequalities in its work to eliminate poverty and advance sustainable human development, strengthen governance and support countries and communities in building resilience.