A Mckinsey study (2019, Moodley et al) found that if Africa focussed on accelerating gender parity, the continent’s collective GDP could be boosted by around 10%. KPMG conducted a study back in 2014 (2014, Khumalo et al) estimated that, at a prevalence rate of 20%, South Africa loses nearly R29 billion a year due to GBV.
There is a problematic systemic link between the gender pay gap and GBV. Progressing action towards GBV has a cyclical positive effect on the economy, in the same way that economies that perpetuate the gender pay gap, open up more opportunities for GBV. We need to start acknowledging the socio-economic factors that provoke GBV and how gender inequality on a macro level contributes to GBV and intimate partner violence (IPV) on a micro level. The longer we choose to ignore this socio-economic influence, the longer we feed the cycle of GBV.
This is not to say that socio-economic disparities are the only factors that influence GBV, but the connection is unquestionable. There is much work being done at a grassroots level to assist women affected by GBV and reintegrating them back into society.
But what is the point of this reintegration if the nature of our gender partisan society remains the same? Combatting GBV directly may start through the rehabilitation of the victims, but it needs to continue towards a rehabilitation of the system.
It is the responsibility of the public and private sectors to re-evaluate their gender payment gaps and take accountability in levelling the professional playing fields. The sooner we address the socio-economic crisis of gender parity, the sooner we can more effectively combat GBV.
This mammoth task of shifting the socio-economic paradigm should not hinge on the actions of powerful women. We are victims of a patriarchal society. Powerful men need to start using their influence to address the crisis of gender-biased capitalism. Reducing gender-parity is financially beneficial on a national level (2019, Moodley et al), so it is actually in the best interests of male dominated C-Suite to start taking the gender-pay gap more seriously.
For business, it is a moral duty and a financial responsibility to act. In this way we can accelerate transformation by refusing to tolerate and accept GBV and offering to step in, as with some organisations that provide a safe space. Globally the concern is that violence against women is a barrier for economic growth. It undermines progress. Changing mindset, that women have to take more deliberate and decisive actions and overcoming economic vulnerability.
This is not to ignore the traumatic, painful and emotionally devastating effect of GBV. The suffering of women affected by GBV and IPV is well documented, and cannot be ignored. But South Africa’s economic powerhouses need to grasp the active role they play in feeding this cycle of trauma. And they need to act quickly to change it.
Even before the pandemic, GBV has been one of the greatest human rights violations. We have a pandemic of violence. Covid-19 is already testing us in ways we have never imagined. The violence that is surfacing directly as a gloomy feature of this pandemic is a trial to our values, our resilience and shared humanity. Essentially, we not only have to survive this pandemic, but emerge renewed alongside women as a powerful force at the centre of recovery. We have to encourage to Fuel Female Economy For Economic Recovery!
Understanding women’s socio-economic needs and priorities is the first step towards an inclusive recovery process. Women should not give up financial independence, but they must be prepared to adjust their lifestyles, because if you are not prepared, you are stuck.
In the wake of 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, let’s drive this awareness of accountability.
- Moodley, L and Kuyoro M et al (2019) The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in Africa, Mckinsey Global Institute
- Khumalo B, Msimang S & Bollbach K (2014) Too costly to ignore - the economic impact of gender-based violence in South Africa. Johannesburg: KPMG Human and Social Services