Our Perspective

      • Violence against women also hurts business and development | Suki Beavers & Benjamin Kumpf

        29 Mar 2013

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        A sexual violence survivor in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After receiving psycho-social support and vocational training at a multifunctional community centre, she is working as a local merchant and can guarantee a livelihood for her family. (Photo: Yves Sambu/UNDP DRC)

        Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation – and this should be enough to trigger dedicated action. But this widespread violence also causes economic and development problems that remain invisible in most debates. Globally, seven in 10 women experience physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives, and three out of 10 at the hands of an intimate partner.   This results in huge direct and indirect costs, not only to victims and their families but also to businesses and countries. In addition to the impact on women’s health, education and participation in public life, the economic costs include health care and legal services; lost productivity and potential salaries; and the costs of prosecuting perpetrators. In Chile, a study found that women’s loss of salary as a result of domestic violence cost US $1.56 billion or more than 2 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. This is not a problem confined to developing countries: In the United States, the cost of violence against women by an intimate partner exceeds $5.8 billion per year. In Canada, annual costs have been estimated at 684 million Canadian dollars for the criminal justice system, 187 million for police and Read More

      • Taking aim at lax arms control laws | Jordan Ryan

        25 Mar 2013

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        Following the installation of prefabricated armories in Kinshasa, DRC, the firearms of police officers stationed at Makala Central Prison and the military prison of N’Dolo are now numbered, cataloged and housed in secure storage facilities. This regulation of small arms and light weapons contributes to increased transparency and the professionalization of the public security sector. (Photo: Joseph Moura)

        We need to better regulate the international arms trade. Today. Thanks in part to the efforts of organizations like the United Nations (UN) and its Member States, wars between countries are rarer now than at any other time in history. To be sure, tensions, such as between Pakistan and India, and North and South Korea still exist, yet intense conflicts, i.e. those resulting in more than 1,000 deaths in a year, dropped by half between 1980 and 2000, and continue to fall. But we can’t celebrate just yet. Armed violence still kills more than half a million people a year. As participants meet at the UN in New York try to agree on an international Arms Trade Treaty, the widespread availability of guns still causes suffering for millions around the world. While “traditional” warfare between states is subsiding, new types of violence have come to the fore. Asymmetrical conflicts, such as those in Afghanistan and Syria; inter community violence like we continue to see in Somalia; and violence linked to crime, such as what we are seeing in El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico are becoming new norms in many fragile countries. For every death from a recognized war, there are now Read More

      • UNDP report cites new trends to celebrate—and more work ahead | Helen Clark

        20 Mar 2013

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        Bhutan, which pioneered “Gross National Happiness,” successfully backed a UN Resolution declaring March 20 the International Day of Happiness. Above, a panoramic view of Wangdue, Bhutan. (Photo: Gill Fickling/UN Photo)

        Today marks the world’s first International Day of Happiness, thanks to a 2012 UN resolution declaring wellbeing a universal goal and calling for more inclusive, equitable growth to make wellbeing and happiness achievable for all. Wellbeing is very much on the rise, according to UNDP’s new flagship Human Development Report, which shows developing nations driving economic growth, lifting hundreds of millions of people from poverty and propelling many into a new global middle class. More than 40 developing countries have made greater than expected human development gains through investment in education, health care, and social programs, and open engagement with a world made smaller by information and communication technologies and globalisation. Among these is Mexico, which hosted the Human Development Report launch and is seen as a pioneer in devising proactive development policies, which have both expanded integration with global markets and proven innovative in social initiatives. In an unprecedented but little-noticed poll that challenges long-held assumptions, Gallup reported Feb. 25 that only 11 percent of Mexicans would emigrate now if they could—identical to the share of Americans who would choose to leave the United States. That finding reflects how our world is changing. So why are pollsters and researchers studying Read More

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