Wednesday, September 06, 2006

U.N. Finds That Female Global Workers Ignored As Engines Of Social Welfare-Based Global Economic And Social Development

"Women migrants play a disproportionate role in determining the level of remittances sent home to developing countries, a new UN report has found, but international policy makers have largely ignored their contribution.

The UN Population Fund’s ‘State of the World Population 2006’, released on Wednesday, says that women tend to send a larger proportion of their lesser resources home than men, and focus those funds more on social welfare.

As growing attention is focused on the importance of remittance flows, which constitute the second largest source of external financing in developing countries after foreign direct investment, the UN is appealing to a high-level meeting on international migration this month in New York to pay more attention to its female face.

Half of the world’s migrants are women – numbering 95m - but only recently have policy-makers begun to address their specific challenges, the UN says, including the exploitation of female domestic workers, and the sex trade.

Yet female migrants have a crucial impact back home. “Despite a paucity of data, one thing is clear,” the UN says. “The money that female migrants send home can raise families and even entire communities out of poverty.”

In 1999, for example, women contributed more than 62 per cent of the $1bn dollars sent in remittances to Sri Lanka. Women transferred one third of the $6bn sent annually to the Philippines in the late 90s – even though they typically receive less pay for equal work.

“The total women remit may be less in comparison with men,” the report notes, but “women send a higher proportion of their earnings, regularly and consistently.”...

“This is largely because women are more inclined to invest in their children than men,” the report noted, as well as having less control over their finances. Men tended to spend remittance income on consumer items, such as cars and televisions, as well as investments such as property and livestock. However, even that pattern was not fixed. A survey in the Dominican Republic found that 100 per cent of women returning from Spain established their own businesses; another study found that 56 per cent of Ghanaian women migrants in Toronto had begun the process of building homes in their country of origin.

Yet immigrant women migrants generally face greater unemployment – more so than native women in the countries they move to – and are paid less.

“Remittances would have an even greater role in poverty reduction and development if women did not face wage, employment, credit and property discrimination, and if they were not excluded from decision-making within the family and in hometown organisations,” the report says."

Mark Turner "UN stresses female migrants’ role in remittance flows" Financial Times September 6, 2006

UN Population Fund’s ‘State of the World Population 2006’

Young female European worker from the former Yugoslavia.

Photo credit: © Jasmila Zbanic, Slike sa ugla (images from the corner), 2003 via With thanks.


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