"I think the issue of domestic abuse is absolutely critical because if you learn, as a young person, violence and abuse in the home then they become a part of your world. Everything we know about the world says that violence begets violence so violence in the home is at the heart of violence itself." - Kate Robertson, OYW Co-Founder
Peace at home. It seems like a simple mission; a home should be a safe and loving environment. But for many, domestic abuse, be it physical, emotional, sexual or financial, pervades their life. The ripple effect of this is often underestimated. Whilst domestic abuse mainly takes place behind closed doors, it never stays there and one arena where the impact is often felt but never explained or really addressed is the workplace.
I was sponsored by Carole Stone to attend One Young World Ottawa as Chair of the Eliminate Domestic Violence Youth Council and I led a breakout session on eliminating domestic abuse through education. After the Summit, the Community Team brought together people based in the UK who were engaged in domestic abuse, violence against women and girls and gender equality. We were all passionate about domestic abuse and had lots of ideas. After about four meetings of brainstorming, we decided to focus on employers and businesses because there didn't seem to be a huge amount of corporate responsibility on the issue. The following nine months involved extensive research and during this we began to develop ideas on why businesses should do something and what they could do to create change.
£2.7 billion of lost economic output is caused by domestic abuse in the UK every year. Of this, £1.3 billion is absorbed by employers. Think about the loss of talent when an employee is not able to engage fully, is late to work and takes time off to recover. What about when someone needs longer term leave and statutory sickpay due to the consequences on mental and physical health? If they end up losing their job, then the cost of recruiting and investing in that person is lost with them and so is their potential. The human and emotional cost of abuse is, of course, immense but there is also a substantial cost to the bottom line that affects businesses and the public purse. We need to start investing in prevention strategies and addressing the issue proactively.
Our business case puts these points to employers in a creative way that aims to engage and inspire action. One of the main aims of the project is for employers to write their own domestic abuse policy. We have set out guidelines for what this should include and factors to consider. Other suggestions include training, workshops and partnerships with frontline charities.
Hear from Ambassadors taking action on domestic abuse at these upcoming events:
- Chiara Lisowski, Jemima Lovatt and Kian Bakhtiari - OYW Ambassadors & Domestic Abuse Working Group members - will be speaking at the London Caucus on 18 November.
- Jemima will be speaking at the Circle of Young Intrapreneurs on 23 November at Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf
- Esther Marshall, Priya Chande and Jemima will be speaking at a discussion on tackling domestic abuse in the 21st century on 5 December at the Unilever London offices.
Jemima began volunteering for the Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence when she was nineteen years old. Her work for the charity has focused on raising awareness, running events and culminated in a year as Chair of the Eliminate Domestic Violence Youth Council. Under her leadership the Youth Council grew to thirty universities across three continents. This involved intensive on-the-ground projects in Johannesburg, New York and Ottawa. In 2016, she was sponsored by Carole Stone CBE to attend One Young World where she led a breakout session on eliminating domestic violence through education. On returning from Ottawa, she began working as the Development Director for the charity and spearheaded partnerships with UN Women, UNFPA and Columbia University. In January 2017, she was awarded an Associate Fellowship of the Royal Commonwealth Society for her international work on domestic violence. She now leads the One Young World Working Group on ending domestic abuse.