Women lose ten days of work a year as a result of domestic and or sexual violence.

Fiji has one of the highest rates of domestic and sexual violence in the world with almost two-thirds of the country’s women experiencing domestic or sexual violence during their lifetime.

This has serious negative impacts on individuals, families, communities, and workplaces.

As part of a solution, the International Finance Corporation, a member fo the World Bank Group, has prepared a guidance note for employers on COVID-19 and Gender Based Violence.

The guidance note seeks to inform employers about the heightened risks of gender-based violence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also outlines ways in which employers can address these risks, improve employee and community well-being, and create a safe and resilient workplace.

According to the International Finance Corporation, this guidance note is important because gender-based violence increases during public health emergencies.

Increases in violence, the IFC says can be due to reduced access to necessities, financial stress, the potential breakdown of societal infrastructures, quarantines and social isolation, family separation in conflict or fragile contexts, or the inability to escape abusive partners.

Gender-based violence also directly affects the business bottom line, with research from Fiji showing that high rates of domestic and sexual violence translate into lost staff time and reduced productivity that is equivalent to almost 10 days of work per employee each year.

A study conducted in three private sector companies, collectively
employing 1,701 employees as of December 2018 revealed that three quarters of those who had directly experienced domestic
or sexual violence acknowledged some impact on work.

Of those who had experienced violence, 53 percent of women
reported impacts on their mental and physical health.

44 percent of women reported that the abusive or violent person had done something to stop them from going to work or participating at work.

26 percent of women reported that the violent or abusive person harassed them when they were at work with 17 percent of women reporting impacts on others at work or the company.

Eighty-six percent of survey participants said they thought that
employers should help employees who experience domestic or
sexual violence.

However, without a structured workplace response in place, employees affected by domestic or sexual violence do not
know who to talk to.

As a result, they either do not talk to anyone or turn to friends and colleagues who do not necessarily know what to do.

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