'We are stuck, we're not stopping violence against women' - President

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca addressing the conference.

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca addressing the conference.

The world is “stuck and running on the spot” in its attempts to stop violence against women, the President has told a top-level UN meeting in New York.

Talking about the devastating impact that gender-based violence has on the economy might shake up more stakeholders to act against the terrible impact that violence against women has within communities and nations, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preco told a UN conference probing the Economic Cost of Violence Against Women.

"We must invest in prevention. We need to move from words to action. We cannot afford to continue simply be reactionary."

She was speaking at the conference which included interventions by the Lithuanian and Chilean presidents who discussed a rare issue and an invisible cost.

Among the EU's member states, some 43 per cent of women have experienced psychological violence in their lifetime, while one in three women in the EU has experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.

One in three women in the EU has experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15

Globally, conservative estimates of lost productivity as a result of gender-based violence range from 1.2 per cent of GDP to two per cent of GDP, according to research by UN Women. National studies, from Guatemala and the UK set their figures, between seven and 10 per cent of GDP. However, these figures do not even begin to account for the costs associated with long-term psycho-social trauma and reduced wellbeing, she said.

The world needs cultural, educational, and social policies and programmes to counteract violence against women.

“We must challenge the social norms that perpetuate violence, and cultivate more equitable relationships between all members of society. We must also address gender inequality by supporting economic development, education, leadership and life skills training. Prevention, especially through education, is our best strategy."

The effects of violence against women also include intangible costs which include chronic pain, emotional trauma, difficulty in forming healthy relationships, long-term suffering, and premature death.

Strengthening the legal system, medical and psycho-social services, police, and other support services, is the cornerstone of an effective response to gender-based violence, Ms Coleiro Preca concluded. 


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