Every year from 25 November to 10 December the world commemorates 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. For the last 15 days, the world is buzzing with webinars, Twitter chats, TikTok challenges, Instagram reels, talking against all forms of violence perpetrated against girls and women.
Does this make me happy? Yes!
Is this something we should be celebrating? Yes! we celebrate all wins small or big. Should more be done? Definitely Yes!
But, I was reflecting on one of the forms of violence that affect girls and women, and but hasn’t been talked much about. It is economic violence or abuse. Loosely defined, economic abuse or violence is any act or behaviour which causes economic harm to an individual. Economic violence can take the form of, for example, property damage, restricting access to financial resources, education, or the labour market, or not complying with economic responsibilities, such as maintenance. It probably sounds very familiar to many of us.
I have been lately reading about feminisation of poverty – it’s about making women generally more economically vulnerable than men. The feminization of poverty describes a phenomenon in which women represent a disproportionate percentage of the world’s poor. Its systematic, structural, and culturally aligned and manipulates women to believe that men should earn more than them. It also asserts that men are entitled to women’s earnings and women don’t own anything. This arrangement is quite common in exclusive marital settings like marriages or co-habiting etc. and also form of economic or financial abuse.
Economic violence experience can also include limited access to funds and credit; controlling access to health care, employment, education, including agricultural resources; excluding from financial decision making; and discriminatory traditional laws on inheritance, property rights, and use of communal land. At work, this can include women experiencing unequal remuneration for the same work, being overworked and underpaid, and being used for unpaid work outside the contractual agreement! (For examle, the expectation that women should clean up the office and other domestic associated or related mundane work). It also includes denial of access to services, exclusion from certain jobs, denial of pleasure, and the enjoyment of civil, cultural, social, and political rights.
Some women also experience fraud and theft, illegal confiscation of goods for sale, and unlawful closing down of worksites. Women in some families are barred from working or earning money, which makes them vulnerable and dependent on their male partners. While others have the disproportionate responsibility of family maintenance with little or no contribution from their partners. Economic violence deepens poverty and compromises educational attainment and developmental opportunities for women. Economic abuse is generally accompanied by or precursors of physical and sexual violence and exploitation, which leads to the risk of contracting HIV infection, maternal morbidity and mortality, and trafficking of women and girls.
Phew, that was a lot, right? I know this resonates with many women who have suffered from economic abuse their entire life without ever identifying it as a form of abuse or violence.
Now that we know about economic violence, I have a few suggestions to prevent and address economic violence.
- Let’s talk about it. A problem shared is sometimes half solved
- Advocacy work – women’s rights organizations and movements are continually working around education, awareness, and better policy. Support or join them!
- Let’s include men in these conversations, creating allies and rallying support!
- Stand up and speak out against economic abuse, violence, and exploitation, I know we say this all the time but it really makes a huge difference.
For further reading click on: https://ccfwe.org/what-is-economic-abuse
I know as you read through this post, either you or someone you know has been the victim of economic abuse. Hope this post helps you or makes you become a supportive pillar to someone else.