The Role of Private Sector in Reducing Gender Based Violence

Gender Based Violence (GBV) is the “Violence against women”, understood as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women and shall mean all acts of gender based violence that result in, or are likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life ”. GBV against women includes sexual abuse of female, rape, restriction on their education and liberty, dowry-related violence, sexual harassment and intimidation, trafficking in women, forced prostitution and other domestic violence etc. In short GBV refers to unfair rights between male and female based on different gender roles which leads to unequal treatment in life.

Article 37-E of the Constitution of Pakistan states that “The state shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work ensuring that children and women are not employed in vocations unsuited to their age or sex, and for maternity benefits for women in employment”, whereas, Article 38 of the constitution clearly and specifically refers to the economic well-being of women. Whereas, article 13 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) requires that there should be no discrimination against women with regards to their economic and social rights. Pakistan has ratified this convention in year 1996.

It is believed that a society cannot thrive without women being an active participant in every aspect of life. In 2014 the percentage of female population in Pakistan was recorded as 48.83  i.e. almost half of Pakistani population consists of women, which means they are about half of the labor force and they may be considered a great asset for sustainable economic development. Yet they constitute one fourth of the total labor force. A study revealed that Pakistan is one of those few developing countries where labor force participation of women is one of the lowest in the world and less than the world average. 

For ensuring a violence free society, various sectors (public, development and private) are working relentlessly. From the public sector, the government is formulating and promulgating various laws and rules & regulations in order to protect GBV. The development sector is working in close collaboration with the public sector for raising awareness, advocacy and lobbying for a more peaceful and violence free society. Many national and international organizations like US Department of State, The American Refugee Committee, The GBV Prevention Network, World Population Foundation, Aurat Foundation etc. are working on GBV in Pakistan. Likewise, the private sector is contributing their efforts to resolve various social issues in collaboration with various local and non-local NGOs under the banner of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), however, their efforts are more concentrated towards relief in disasters, education and health issues. These issues somehow can be helping in reduction of GBV however, it is largely unknown as to whether private sector playing any direct contribution in tackling this issue or not? 

Lately, an increasing trend of women participation in higher education has been observed in Pakistan which hints towards more educated workforce availability in the future. So is the case of working women ratio which is also observed to be on the rise. Therefore, in order to tackle the menace of GBV, more holistic and comprehensive strategies may be needed. For this purpose, the specification of roles and responsibilities of all the stakeholders are needed to be identified and fixed. 

Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School’ Professor have underlined the importance of shared responsibility for sustainable development (click here to see the report of ILO). Therefore, it is believed that if corporations want sustainable development, they must fulfill their responsibility and lead the drive for preventing GBV. They must inspire individuals as well as communities for the overall positive impact. Reduction in GBV will give them healthy, happy and motivated employees with enhanced productivity, improved attendance and ultimately enhanced profitability. Hence, there is a potential business case for the corporations as well. Therefore, more concentrated and holistic efforts may be required from the all the sectors, however, according to my opinion, private sector must share more responsibility here as their role in this dimension of CSR is somehow underplayed. 
The Role of Private Sector in Reducing Gender Based Violence The Role of Private Sector in Reducing Gender Based Violence Reviewed by Ifzal Ahmad on 12:40:00 Rating: 5
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