This year the British High Commission through our Department for International Development (DFID) supported the launch of the Government of Ghana’s National Survey on Domestic Violence. The UK has had a long-standing and productive relationship with the Government of Ghana to progress its gender equality agenda. Tackling domestic violence has been a key area of cooperation. We are proud to have partnered with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to commission this study, which provides data and analysis on the incidence, levels of acceptance, determinants and consequences of domestic violence in Ghana. The report also examines the effectiveness of the institutional support available to victims.
We understand that the journey towards producing the report started more than two years ago. The outcome has truly been the culmination of several years of work involving a range of stakeholders. The UK is extremely delighted to have been part of this important journey. But this journey is not over; it continues each day with each one of us. Today marks International Day to End Violence against Women and Girls. We reaffirm the objective of the study as evidence generated to be used to advance legal, policy and programmatic interventions to reduce the levels of domestic violence. We hope together we can collectively make this a reality.
As you know, domestic violence is a prevalent form of violence against women and girls (VAWG). Women and girls are not the only victims but females of all ages are at much higher risk because of harmful gender norms that drive the abuse. The report confirms this, along with the findings that the health impacts of domestic violence on women and girls is more severe. Along with this, VAWG more generally robs women and girls of their voice, choice and control over the decisions that impact on their lives. This, in turn, undermines women and girls’ potential. It is therefore critical to understand the incidence of domestic violence, the attitudes driving the practice, its determinants and consequences in order to be able to effectively prevent and respond to this grave human rights violation. This is especially so within the framework of achieving the sustainable development goals, which include targets on eliminating all forms of VAWG.
For the UK, tackling VAWG is a high priority because it presents a major obstacle to ending gender inequality. It is clear that it impoverishes women, girls and their families, and can often marginalise them. We simply cannot achieve sustainable and inclusive development while further marginalising people based on their sex. It is well established by now that the active and meaningful inclusion of all women and girls in all spheres of life – political, social and economic – remains critical to the development of a nation.
VAWG also drains public resources, undermines human capital, and lowers economic productivity. Preventing VAWG is a development goal in itself and important in achieving better lives for not only individual women and girls, but for their families and societies as well.
The United Kingdom has driven forward its commitment to do more to address VAWG in recent years. Through our Department for International Development (DFID), we are working closely with the Government of Ghana, civil society organisations and other key stakeholders to address some of the risk factors of violence in a variety of sectors. Ongoing programmes include:
Our Girls’ PASS programme (£47 million) provides scholarship packages to 86,000 girls from deprived households at significant risk of dropping out of school. These scholarships enable girls to complete their cycle of secondary education.
Additionally, our Complementary Basic Education programme (£17.9 million) targets out of school children, including girls, and provides them with a second chance at education.
Lastly, we have a new programme which will focus on preventing violence against adolescent girls. In particular, the programme seeks to tackle the harmful social norms that drive domestic violence and other forms of VAWG.
In addition to collaborating with the Ministry of Gender to provide support to the domestic violence research, the UK is funding a three-year study that seeks to measure the economic and social costs of VAWG in three countries including Ghana. It is clear, most especially from the Commission on the Status of Women that took place earlier this year, that the availability of data on domestic violence and other forms of violence against women and girls remains critical, particularly if member states are to track progress in relation to SDG target 5.2. This research is therefore very timely.
We congratulate the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection for its leadership, commitment and guidance on this study, and for shining the torch on a prevalent social issue. We trust the rich knowledge and recommendations outlined in the report continue to be realised in the coming months and years, and that continued efforts and strides are made to ensure the end of violence against women and girls is achieved.