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How gender-based violence hinders Africa's development

The impact of gender-based violence (GBV), the most prevalent human rights violation in the world, on individuals is typically glaring. However, there’s another complex impact that is often ignored – the socio-economic impact. 

African countries with the highest rates of gender-based violence, such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Liberia, cannot afford any further economic challenges. This makes it imperative for such countries to seek and implement policies and legislation to fight against gender-based violence. 

What is gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence refers to violence that is targeted at individuals or groups based on their gender. While the most documented data shows women and girls as the highest affected by gender-based violence, men, boys, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are also significantly impacted. 

What are the causes of gender-based violence?

The causes of GBV are nuanced according to the region in which they take place. The prevalence of gender-based violence in Africa, in particular, is due to nurtured patriarchy, cultural gender norms, poverty, war and conflict. Women, girls and LGBTQ+ individuals are viewed as unequal and inferior to cisgender and heterosexual men. These men hold power and control, which they often use to rape, sexually violate, injure and kill. 

Gender-based violence and its link to the economy

This inequality translates into socio-economic structures such as the workplace, where the majority of opportunities are available to cis heterosexual men. The cycle of this type of inequality is upheld because the decision-makers themselves are usually gender-conforming males, who are either uneducated about the realities of gender disparities or abuse their power to perpetuate this unequal system. 

This, in essence, means that women and individuals in the LGBTQ+ community do not receive a fair chance at work opportunities. They’re blocked from accessing opportunities that will better their lives and the lives of their families and communities, as well as participating in the regional and national economy. 

What are the solutions for gender-based violence

The pressing question now is; how to prevent gender-based violence in South Africa and other African countries? While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, African governments have an opportunity to include women and individuals in the LGBTQ+ community at the forefront of dialogues on gender-based violence. The social development in Africa needs to start at the root, at the governmental structures. Doing this ensures that there are open lines of communication with individuals who can drive initiatives aimed at accurately addressing inequality in the broader spectrum of society. 

This is where gender mainstreaming can come in. Gender mainstreaming is the integration of universal public policies, legislation, programmes and projects to include women from a planning level to ensure an equal distribution of resources and opportunities. However, the challenges of gender mainstreaming are heavily linked to the lack of funding to drive it to fruition. Implementing an infrastructure fund can stimulate change.

DBSA’s role in gender mainstreaming

DBSA has a gender mainstreaming programme designed to finance large scale and small scale infrastructure for women-owned or women-led organisations within the four sectors; energy, information communication and technology, transport, and water and sanitation. 

The Bank focuses on the following four key pillars, which have the primary purpose of streamlining the processes to ensure the quality and success of the programme.

  • Promoting investments in women-owned projects.
  • Adapting strategies, policies and procedures to enable gender mainstreaming across the DBSA.
  • Providing capacity building and knowledge sharing.
  • Building partnerships with public and private partners who share our vision for gender equality.

This programme is aimed at empowering women, ensuring that they receive sufficient opportunities to become active participants in the economy. 

Final thoughts

Gender-based violence is a global crisis that requires effort and money to mitigate the associated socio-economic risks. The leaders in Africa need to find collaborative and integrated solutions to ensure that the continent is lifted out of further economic catastrophe.