From Rhetoric to Action – Global Issues

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, followed by 16 Days of Global Action against Gender-Based Violence, a moment to reflect, renew, expand and strategize to achieve commitments to end violence against women. 2030. Ending violence against women is possible, but only if we act together, now, says the United Nations.
  • Opinion by Jacqui Stevenson (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
  • Inter Press Service

This has disastrous consequences for individual women, whose rights are violated, their physical integrity and psychological well-being are violated, and their health is damaged. It also has consequences for society, including the costs of providing services to respond to violence and the financial impact of violence itself.

Although these costs are borne by other sectors, including health, policing, social services and education, efforts to reduce or prevent violence against women often suffer from limited budgets and funding cuts. Also missing from many responses are the invisible costs incurred by women, their children, their families and their communities.

Although nearly three out of four countries have the policy infrastructure to support multisectoral action to eliminate violence against women and girls, only 44 percent of countries report having a national budget item to provide health services to combat violence against women. Recent analyzes show that foreign donors play an important role in financing GBV interventions, but that funding is limited and uncertain, and inconsistent with human rights principles.

Bridging the gap between policy and implementation is essential if efforts to reduce violence against women are to meet the urgency and scale required.

Ending violence against women is an urgent legal, moral and ethical imperative. Effective interventions to reduce, prevent and respond to gender-based violence in all its forms must be a priority for all governments. In addition to ending the violation of women’s human rights and the perpetuation of gender inequality represented by violence against women, interventions to end gender-based violence contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the further development of societies more broadly.

Effective coordinated investments are a key part of achieving this necessary goal, but it is important to emphasize that ending violence does not generate a return on investment.

Recognizing the challenges posed by mass budgets, UNDP and UNU-IIGH collaborated on a project to develop new tools and evidence on “participatory planning and payment models” with support from the Republic of Korea. These models involve various community stakeholders in identifying their own solutions and generating sustainable funding for local GBV action plans.

This approach prioritizes the need to engage with different policymakers and stakeholders at the local level to create effective solutions that are both contextual and locally driven to address violence against women. Pilots were implemented in Indonesia, Peru and the Republic of Moldova.

The results of these pilot projects were published to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Importantly, the models centralize the participation and leadership of women and women’s civil society, embedding women’s rights activists in local structures that develop plans and budgets to combat gender-based violence.

The basic idea behind a participatory planning and payment approach is simple: the benefits of reducing violence are shared by all, so the costs can be shared as well. Different sectors will reap the financial benefits of reducing violence against women, but each acting in isolation will not be able to adequately fund a comprehensive prevention and response program.

Instead, by bringing these sectors together with local communities and other stakeholders, the project helped develop local action plans (NAPs) to address GBV using participatory methods. Each NAP addressed locally identified priorities for violence prevention and response, with targeted benefits across a range of health, economic and social sectors and issues.

LAPs are spent and paid for, as the plan itself is participatory, with sector-specific ‘payers’ and budgets pooled to maximize impact. Instead of fragmented budgets funding a mix of interventions and services without a coherent structure, funding streams are pooled to support a coordinated plan. Through collaboration, shared expertise and decision-making, and local community accountability, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This innovative model is inherently difficult to implement. Particularly in resource-constrained settings such as settings for these pilots, there are competing demands for limited budgets and multiple priorities vying for attention and funding.

Breaking down silos to achieve shared funding is a political, contentious process, and centering the voices, priorities and rights of women, especially the most marginalized women, is challenging. A key learning from the pilot projects is the need to ensure that senior decision-makers with budget responsibilities in key sectors and government departments are involved in the LAP development process at an early stage to gain support.

Despite the challenges, the benefits of shared budgeting and resource mobilization are clear. In Peru, UNDP conducted a major study to estimate the costs of not preventing gender-based violence. The “Cost of Prevention” study estimated the annual cost of GBV in the community of Villa El Salvador (where the project was piloted) at approximately US$72.9 million (2018 figures), including direct costs and indirect costs such as health care. such as being deprived of work and income paid by affected women, their children and families, networks and wider communities.

Cost estimates for the participatory planning process for GBV prevention and response were estimated at $256,000 over 2.8 years (including project initiation and tool and product development costs, to be reduced in later years). This is a clear demonstration of the value for money of participatory approaches to planning and payment models to address gender-based violence.

The costs of not adequately preventing and responding to violence fall squarely on women. The Cost of Prevention study estimated that 45% of the costs of TCX are borne by the affected women themselves, including increased physical and mental health problems, out-of-pocket costs and lower incomes.

An additional 11% receive subsidies from households and 44% from the community, including missed school days for children affected by domestic violence and emotional support, shelter and personal loans from others in the community. Inadequate funding, depleted budgets and limited resources only increase the costs for women, communities and societies.

Participatory planning and payment models offer a blueprint for funding and providing services and interventions that women need, want and are entitled to. Ultimately, someone has to pay for violence against women.

Dr. Jacqui Stevenson She is a research consultant at the UN University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) working to generate new evidence on the intersections of gender and health, including GBV and COVID-19.

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