14 October 2003


Press Release

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Committee

9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)



Speakers also Emphasize Economic Potential of Women, Vital Role of Remittances

The empowerment of women and migrants were essential stepping stones towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals of universal sustainable development and poverty-eradication, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today as it took up its consideration of sustainable development and international economic cooperation.

Socio-economic empowerment turned many women into positive agents of change in the fields of education, health and industrial productivity, a representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said.  Sixty

per cent of the world’s poor were women and girls, many of them employed in subsistence agriculture.  As much as one third of all small-scale businesses were owned and operated by women.

She said UNIDO was working to change that through capacity-building, helping women entrepreneurs to hone technical and managerial skills, gain access to credit and create their own self-help groups to share business plans and improve competitiveness in the market place.  The UNIDO’s Women Entrepreneurship Development programmes supported agro-industrial development in Africa’s food, leather and textile markets, as well as income-generating activities in Viet Nam, Mexico, Central America, Nepal and Iran.

Similarly, the support accorded by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) to the Network of African Women Economists and Digital Diaspora Network for Africa, workshops of the United Nations Division for the Advancement for Women and the European Commission’s gender-oriented programmes had scored several successes in improving the plight of women worldwide, said Anwarul Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. 

Still, gender perspectives were only minimally included in National Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, common country assessments and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), he said, urging delegates to heed the Secretary-General’s warning that the lack of gender-disaggregated data was thwarting efforts to monitor progress in implementing the millennium targets.  The least developed countries and their development partners must work together to ensure that gender-sensitive targets and indicators were an integral part of follow-up and implementation of major United Nations conferences.

Guyana’s representative stressed his country’s strong commitment to increasing the influence of women in all spheres of national political and economic life, noting that one third of Guyana’s parliamentarians were women.

Turning to migration, he said brain drain was a significant impediment to socio-economic advancement in developing countries.  In recent years, many of the Caribbean’s best doctors and teachers had been wooed by employment opportunities in the United States and Europe.  If current migration trends continued, Guyana’s population would in fact shrink during the next 50 years.  On the positive side, migrants sent remittances back to their families, spurring community-based projects in health, education and entrepreneurship.  Migrants were often instrumental in securing the support of their host countries on issues of concern back home.

The representative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said more people were clearly on the move.  The total number of migrants living in foreign countries for more than one year had reached 150 million in 2000, double the 1965 figure.  Their number had since risen to 175 million, according to recent estimates.

Migrants were rightly viewed as potential agents of development, who strengthened cooperation between their home and host societies, he said.  They contributed to development through investment and remittances and also through their skills, entrepreneurial activities and support for democracy and human rights.  The total value of their remittances through official channels had more than doubled between 1988 and 1999.  According to the World Bank figures, workers from developing countries had sent $72.3 billion back home in 2001, considerably higher than official development assistance (ODA) the same year.

India’s representative said immigration was increasingly linked to trade capacity, competitiveness and employment policy.  The advent of transnational business operations had boosted migration flows and States needed to adapt immigration policies to that new reality.  The General Agreement on Trade and Services could be a win-win solution to that dilemma, with labour shortage in developed nations being matched by labour availability in developing countries.

Several speakers also stressed the need for strategies to tackle violence against women and end impunity for trafficking women, forced prostitution, rape and violence against women in armed conflicts.  Others focused on the importance of giving women political representation and participation, as well as equal access to information and communication technologies and control over resources and land rights.  As for human resources development, many speakers underscored the importance of equipping people with the skills and knowledge to compete in global markets, balancing the demands of new employment with the supply of required skills.

The Committee also heard United Nations officials introduce the Secretary-General’s reports on the empowerment of women and integration of gender perspectives in the promotion of economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development; human resources development; international migration and development; and the activities of UNIFEM.

Also speaking during today’s meeting were the representatives of Morocco (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Italy (on behalf of the European Union), Pakistan, Russian Federation, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Croatia, Chile, Jamaica, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Indonesia, Canada, Philippines, Uruguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market), Mexico, Tunisia, Lebanon, Ukraine, Israel, Armenia, Nepal, Kenya and Azerbaijan.

The Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) also spoke.

Statements were also made by the Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women, the Director of the Division for Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Support and Coordination, and the Director of the Population Division.

The Second Committee will meet again tomorrow, Wednesday, 15 October, at 9:30 a.m. for a keynote address by Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University on “Prospects for economic growth and the future of development cooperation”.


As the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the empowerment of women and integration of gender perspectives in the promotion of economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development (document A/58/135).

The report notes that continuing inequalities and discrimination force women in many parts of the world to live in precariouse situations, as evidenced by the level of violence against women, trafficking in women and girls, the impact of armed conflict on women and the high number of women among the poorest of the poor.

Specific vulnerabilities of women and girls, the report states, must be identified as abuses of women’s rights and obstacles to sustainable development and their vital inputs to maintaining peace and security, eradicating poverty, protecting the environment and promoting democracy.  Global progress in bringing women’s concerns and gender perspectives to the fore must be acted upon at national levels, with a strong focus on implementing policies, norms and recommendations.

The report suggests that the General Assembly call on all relevant actors, governments, the United Nations system, international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society to focus more on gender perspectives in follow-up activities to the International Conference on Financing for Development; the thematic clusters of the Commission on Sustainable Development’s multi-year programme of work; and preparations for and outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society.  Those bodies should also promote and monitor the empowerment of women and gender perspectives in development, and focus on gender perspectives in all reporting processes.

In addition, the report says, the General Assembly could encourage governments and the above bodies to bring gender perspectives into strategies and action plans in follow-up to all United Nations conferences and summits, and develop gender-sensitive targets and indicators and effective monitoring mechanisms.  They should also develop capacity-building in gender mainstreaming, and take steps to ensure that data needed for gender analysis is collected and sex-disaggregated.

Another report of the Secretary-General before the Committee, on international migration and development (document A/58/98), reviews relevant activities carried out by United Nations bodies and outside organizations.

Activities of Organization within United Nations System

According to the report, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs has been monitoring levels and trends of international migration as well as migration policies, and has worked to prevent violence against female migrant workers and trafficking in women and girls.  Focusing mainly on minors or women who are refugees or trafficking victims, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been supporting legislation to protect child victims of trafficking.

The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has been working to improve employment standards for female migrants, the report says.  Among migration projects being carried out by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is TOKTEN (Transfer of Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals), which helps qualified expatriates return to their homelands to work on specific projects.  The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has assessed HIV-related risks of migration, concluding that links between migration and HIV/AIDS are clouded by misinformation, misunderstanding and stigmatization. 

Other United Nations bodies involved in migration include the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Activities of Organizations outside United Nations

The report observes that the European Union has laid down a framework for a common immigration and asylum policy, which includes partnerships with countries of origin; a common European Asylum System; fair treatment of third-country nationals; and management of international migration flows.  Another organization, Metropolis, a multinational partnership focusing on integrating immigrants into host societies, has recently expanded its scope to include demographic trends, international migration flows, smuggling and trafficking of migrants, international cooperation in managing international migration, the abuse of the international asylum system and the extent and effects of brain drain on countries of origin.

According to the report, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), mainly targets the newly independent States of Eastern Europe and Central Asia in providing border services as well as training for border service officers, and organizes workshops for information exchange on migration.  In addition, it helps set up population registration systems operating under the principle of freedom of movement and choice of place of residence, which the OSCE considers a prerequisite for democracy.

Other non-United Nations organizations in the migration field include the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Society for International Development (SID).

Addressing Migration within United Nations

The United Nations has considered holding a conference on international migration and development as a forum for maximizing the potential benefits of international migration for development.  A survey carried out in the Organization over the past year yielded 47 responses from Member States, of which 25 favoured the conference and 22 had reservations.  While such a conference remains uncertain, the United Nations should play a key role in data collection, research, coordination of activities among concerned organizations, providing advisory services and technical assistance, advocacy, and promoting the ratification of existing international instruments on international migration. 

Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report on activities of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).  The report (document A/58/168) tracks the Fund’s progress in three key areas:  strengthening the economic security and rights of women; enhancing their leadership in governance and peace-building; and promoting the human rights of women and eliminating violence against them.  It also highlights implementation of UNIFEM’s Strategy and Business Plan (2000-2003) during 2002.

Regarding economic security and rights, UNIFEM has strengthened institutional, legal and regulatory environments for women’s equal ownership and access to economic resources, the report states.  The Fund has also intensified efforts to build skills, technical capacities and commitments within governments to develop and collect gender-sensitive statistics.  The UNIFEM has also helped countries to mainstream gender perspectives into trade policies and strengthened women’s capacity and rights as entrepreneurs, producers and home-based workers.  Field-based programmes in 2002 were increasingly designed to enhance women’s use and control of information and communications technologies, with support now being provided to initiatives in 15 countries.

With respect to governance and peace-building, the report notes that UNIFEM’s main focus during 2002 was to complete and launch Women, War, and Peace: The Independent Experts’ Assessment of the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women and Women’s Role in Peace-building (Volume I of Progress of the World’s Women 2002). The Fund also improved assistance for women affected by conflict, focusing particularly on preventing gender-based violence and sexual exploitation, and expanded support for gender equality and women’s rights in post-conflict peace-building.

In its work to promote women’s human rights and eliminate violence against women, the report says, UNIFEM has worked to strengthen integrated responses to violence against women through better research and data, build capacities for drawing up legislation, strengthen regional action, and build awareness among policy-makers and the public of the urgency of ending such behaviour.  The Fund has also assisted with implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and with understanding of the gender and human rights dimensions of HIV/AIDS.  With support from the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and other bilateral and multilateral donors, UNIFEM launched programmes in 10 countries to assist national AIDS councils in programming from a gender and human rights perspective.


The UNIFEM Consultative Committee comprising Croatia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Namibia and the Netherlands, recommends that UNIFEM continue its work on peace and security, and widen its interpretation of violence against women.  The Fund should also continue to foster and build strategic partnerships, both within and outside the United Nations, and develop cost-effective ways of expanding its use of media and communications.

Also before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General on human resources and development (document A/58/348), which highlights human resources as a means for promoting economic growth and eradicating poverty.  It also focuses on information and communication technologies in developing human resources and emphasizes the need for adequate resources to increase investment in human resources development.

The report stresses that strategies to develop human resources should focus on capacities and opportunities for all generations and special groups, such as persons with disabilities, older people, youth and indigenous peoples.  Moreover, gender equality should be essential in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating policies and programmes for developing human resources.

In developing human resources, the report states, investments in health and education must be significantly increased to give all people living in poverty access to such services.  In particular, HIV/AIDS requires urgent efforts combining short-term humanitarian responses and long-term development to rebuild human capacity lost to the pandemic.

The report also recommends that training be more flexible and responsive to rapidly changing requirements for skills, and serve learners in the informal economy.  Such core work skills as communication and problem-solving should be integral to basic education and literacy programmes and distance-learning could be extended to various programmes for developing human resources development.

Introduction of Reports

CAROLYN HANNAN, Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women, introducing the Secretary-General’s report on empowerment of women, said that gender perspectives should be integrated into existing national planning and reporting instruments as well as into the first comprehensive review of the follow-up to the Millennium Declaration and the Second High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, both in 2005.  Healthy economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development were contingent on the full participation of women.  In March 2003, the Commission on the Status of Women had called for equal access to information and communication technologies, she added, urging the Second Committee to address the importance of using the information revolution for the empowerment of women.

NOELEEN HEYZER, Executive Director of UNIFEM, introducing the report on the Fund’s activities,said that the Secretary-General’s updated reform agenda emphasized the need to incorporate women’s perspectives and gender considerations in all development efforts.  As a relatively small and catalytic fund, UNIFEM’s effectiveness was dependent on collaboration with governments, civil society and the United Nations, she said, adding that the Fund was strengthening partnerships to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

SARBULAND KHAN, Director of the Division for Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Support and Coordination, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the report on human resources development, noting that human resources development should be seen as it related to the broader context of achieving the millennium targets.  The main reason that human resources development had come to the fore in the United Nations and the Second Committee was that globalization had made it more important than ever before.  Human resources were vital for successful competition in today’s world, and health and education were key to economic growth and poverty eradication.  Pointing out that achieving the millennium goals meant adapting to changing times, he said human resources strategies must be flexible and adaptable to change.

JOSEPH CHAMIE, Director of the Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the report on international migration and development, saying it included the views of 47 States on convening a United Nations conference on international migration and development.  Some 22 States had expressed reservations about such a conference, pointing out that scarce resources would be better used for implementing existing agreements; that existing mechanisms of the United Nations system should be used to address issues involving international migration and development; and that bilateral or regional negotiations were more likely to lead to meaningful ways of dealing with migration issues.  The remaining 25 States favouring the conference had emphasized the need to safeguard the rights of migrants, stressing that a conference should be technical and analytical and deal with all types of migrants.

Introductory Statement

ANWARUL CHOWDHURY, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said women and girls bore the heaviest burden of extreme poverty, weak economies and inadequate institutional capacities in the 49 least developed countries.  Little access to and ownership of land and productive resources in rural areas particularly exacerbated gender inequality and impeded the overall development of those countries.

The United Nations system’s efforts at gender mainstreaming had proven fruitful, he said, citing also the European Commission’s gender-oriented programmes, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) income-generating projects for women, UNIFEM’s support for the Network of African Women Economists and Digital Diaspora Network for Africa, and workshops sponsored by the Division for the Advancement for Women.  However, there was minimal integration of gender perspectives in national poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs), the Common Country Assessments (CCAs) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). 

As indicated in the Secretary-General’s report, the lack of gender-disaggregated data seriously constrained reporting and monitoring progress in implementing the millennium targets, he said.  In the least developed countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, statistical data were often unavailable.  Least developed countries and their development partners must work together to ensure that gender-sensitive targets and indicators were an integral part of follow-up and implementation of major United Nations conferences.  


HASSAN ABOUTAHIR (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said human resources development should aim to equip people with the skills and knowledge necessary for competing in global markets.  Education, training and access to information and communication technologies could form a supportive human resources development Web for all people, and were vital to productive employment and economic growth.  As labour markets adapted to the emerging occupational structures of growing economies, human resources development strategies must balance the demands of new employment with the supply of required skills.

Turning to women in development, he said globalization had worsened the conditions in which millions of people lived around the world.  One of the most disquieting trends of that process had been the increased poverty of women, which had become known as the “feminization of poverty”.  The empowerment of women was vital in eradicating poverty and they must move from being objects of subordination to subjects controlling their own lives.  Placing women in income-generating activities helped improve living standards and created new opportunities to eradicate poverty.

Regarding migration and development, he said international migration was becoming an important global issue with multidimensional aspects, which should become a priority on the international agenda.  A United Nations conference on the subject had not attracted consensus among States, but the United Nations should continue to examine that complex issue and identify ways to maximize the benefits of international migration for development.

MARIO SERIO (Italy), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 and in all education levels by 2015 was a prerequisite for combating poverty and malnutrition.  Without equal and economic opportunities for girls and women, the millennium targets could not be achieved.  As indicated by the 2003 Human Development Report, gender equality was still very limited in developing countries, where women’s mortality and HIV/AIDS infection rates remained high and access to adequate medical services, including sexual and reproductive healthcare, social services and jobs remained low.

He urged all States to incorporate strategies in healthcare, education, media and law to end violence against women and impunity for the trafficking of women, forced prostitution, rape and violence against women in armed conflicts.  Women must also be allowed appropriate political representation and participation, equal access to information and communication technologies as well as control over resources and land rights.

International migration issues must be integrated into a broader context of economic, environmental and social development frameworks, he continued.  The European Union was particularly committed to crushing transnational networks, often linked to organized crime groups, that yielded high profits by smuggling migrants and trafficking women and children.  In that regard, he lauded the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, particularly its two protocols against trafficking of humans. 

SIMIN MAHMOOD JAN (Pakistan) said the empowerment of women and the mainstreaming of gender perspectives required several steps at the local, national, regional and global levels.  The indivisible links between gender equity and poverty must be recognized, and women must be ensured equal access to health, education and other opportunities.  Pakistan had set up a National Commission on the Status of Women, a high-level body to review government policies and programmes affecting women’s development and implementation of the National Action Plan on Women.

Turning to human resource development, he said that process contributed to poverty eradication and long-term economic growth through improved health, education and capacity-building.  The Government of Pakistan had focused on introducing efficient, accountable, transparent and pro-poor governance and laws promoting decentralization and public participation; eradicating poverty in rural areas, where 60 to 70 per cent of the population lived; promoting employment opportunities for urban-educated and uneducated youth; and targeted interventions in education and health.

Regarding international migration and development, he said the interrelationship between migration and development was complex and had significant implications for international relations.  It was hoped that the General Assembly would soon begin a process to formulate an international response to the vital issues linked with that global problem.

EVGENY STANISLAVOV (Russian Federation) said that developing human resources was vital in implementing internationally agreed development goals.  The process required an optimal combination of actions at the international, regional and national levels, including multilevel strategies for human resources development consistent with the national priorities of States.  It was particularly important to build up international cooperation in the area of continuous lifetime education, making full use of distant education as a key factor in raising labour force quality.

Turning to international migration, he said that process was having both positive and negative effects on socio-economic and political stability.  No universal method existed for dealing with migration problems, which depended on factors inherent to situations in individual States.  The Russian Federation supported the idea of convening a United Nations conference on international migration and development, which should focus on approaches to migration problems, consider migration and development and attempt to ensure the rights of different types of migrants.  It should also look into the causes, trends and effects of migration on the political and socio-economic situations in countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as measures to regulate migration flows.

ADRIANA PULIDO SANTANA (Venezuela) stressed that in order to achieve the millennium targets, the international community must step up financial resources and technical assistance to developing nations, create more transparent and equitable global trade and finance systems, and allow developing countries to channel debt-servicing payments into socio-economic programme financing.  Venezuela was pursuing the millennium targets through a comprehensive economic reform programme aimed at improving the living standards of the poor through job creation, as well as the establishment of a microcredit fund and lending institutions for the poor and for women. 

She said donor countries must adequately finance development programmes, particularly for the poor in developing nations.  Underscoring the need to heed the Secretary-General’s call for greater South-South cooperation to complement North-South cooperation, she said her country was doing its part through contributions to the Special Fund for Caribbean Development as well as regional energy and anti-desertification agreements.

CHITHAMBARANATHAN MAHENDRAN (Sri Lanka), noting that most migrants originated from developing countries with high unemployment rates, said that his own country had more than a million men and women -- one sixth of its total work force -– employed overseas.  The impact of migration on a country’s economic growth was enormous, with remittances sent by migrant workers making a major contribution to development.  It had been estimated that migrant workers worldwide remitted over $100 billion annually.  Labour-recipient countries also benefited from international migration, making use of the skills and experiences of migrant workers.

He said he was also aware of the problems caused by labour migration.  In countries like Sri Lanka, where the majority of migrant workers were unskilled women, family life was sometimes disrupted, and children neglected.  In addition, women migrant workers were subjected to violence and harassment.  Sri Lanka had recently taken steps to regulate labour migration and to protect the welfare of migrant workers.  Action had been taken to provide formal pre-departure training and orientation, particularly for those in the domestic work sector, and various welfare measures had been laid down for the children of migrant workers.

A. GOPINATHAN (India) said that human resource development should include the promotion of universal education and access to healthcare.  That would require an additional $5 billion to $10 billion annually for education and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), another $66 billion in healthcare for the poor in developing countries.  Enhanced international cooperation, particularly development financing, was essential for strengthening human resources in developing countries, and would require a $16 billion increase in real terms of official development assistance (ODA) by 2006, representing 0.26 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of developed countries.

Immigration was increasingly linked to trade capacity, competitiveness and employment policy, he said.  Immigration policy had to extend beyond the social realm.  As the operations of more and more global firms become transnational, the gap between migration policy and trade policy could manifest itself in immigration controls acting as non-tariff barriers.  The General Agreement on Trade and Services could translate that into a win-win situation, with developing nations supplying labour to developed countries with a shortage of workers.  For nations like India, the balance of gains in future negotiations depended on better overseas market access for service providers, either from remote locations or through temporary movements.

JOHN LANGMORE, Director and Representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to the United Nations, stressed the importance of identifying policies for more effective migration to protect undocumented workers, all of whom were at greater risk of discrimination and inequity in employment, housing and access to community and social services.  For example, the growth in so-called flexible employment terms such as contracting and subcontracting, and the declining percentage of workers covered by collectively bargained agreements such as trade union contracts made migrants more vulnerable.  Moreover, migrants’ wages and employment opportunities were significantly less than those of nationals.

Healthy migration occurred in countries where the flow of new arrivals was limited to the receiving society’s ability to effectively absorb and integrate them into society, he said.  Some research suggested an annual flow rate of

1 per cent of the population for that to occur.  An overall commitment to multiculturalism facilitated effective and fair integration of migrants, he said, noting that immediate residence status and quick access to citizenship promoted the security of migrants and the host society alike.  In that regard, the ILO encouraged States to form coherent migration policies for employment based on the economic and social needs of both countries of origin and countries of employment.  Such policies should take into account short-term needs and long-term consequences for both sides.

LUCA DALL’OGLIO, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the total number of international migrants had been estimated at about 75 million people in 1965.  By 2000, that number had doubled to 150 million people living in foreign countries for more than a year.  The most recent estimate stood at

175 million.  Clearly, more people were on the move.

Noting that the international community was beginning to focus more on the positive effects of international migration on home-country development, he said migrants were rightly considered as potential agents of development, who strengthened cooperation between home and host societies.  They contributed to development through investment and remittances and also through their skills, entrepreneurial activities and support for democracy and human rights.

One of the most visible contributions of migrants to their countries of origin was financial remittances, he said, noting that the total value of remittances through official channels had more than doubled between 1988 and 1999. According to the World Bank, workers’ remittances to developing countries in 2001 had stood at $72.3 billion considerably higher than ODA for that or any other recent year.  Research was being carried out to determine the real and potential impact of such remittances on poverty reduction and development, but it was generally acknowledged that they made important contributions to development and the well-being of migrants’ family members in many developing nations.

IRENE FREUDENSCHUSS-REICHL, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said women and girls constituted three fifths of the world’s poor, many of them engaged in subsistence agriculture, and one quarter to

one third of the microbusiness sector.  Gender equality and women’s empowerment were essential to achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication.  The UNIDO was responding to that challenge through customized projects to promote women entrepreneurs, and women in manufacturing jobs.  Through socio-economic empowerment, women could become agents of change for the better in education, health and industrial productivity.

She said UNIDO’s capacity-building programmes for women entrepreneurs comprised managerial, entrepreneurial and technical training specific to the needs of each sub-sector and country; coaching and counselling to identify bottlenecks; networking with credit institutions; and the creation of self-help groups to share business plans and improve their competitive edge.  The UNIDO had implemented most of its Women Entrepreneurship Development (WED) programmes in Africa, particularly in agro-industrial sectors such as food, leather and textiles.  The WED also supported women’s business development in Viet Nam, Mexico, Central America, Nepal and Iran.

IRENA ZUBČEVIĆ (Croatia) said that achieving development goals was contingent on the full participation of women as well as men, and the identification of gender perspectives in all areas.  Croatia had equal property rights and access to credit for both women and men.  It had also passed a law on gender equality, introducing gender mainstreaming into the work of all State bodies and legal entities.

Turning to international migration, she said transnational networks of migrants promoted the transfer of knowledge and technology across borders and strengthened ties between migrants and their communities of origin, which provided incentives for migrants to contribute to the development of those communities.  In addition, migrant remittances continued to provide income to families left behind, often exceeding the amount of ODA.

Due to recent war with neighbouring countries, she said, Croatia was also faced with the problem of displaced persons and refugees, although that situation had improved in 2002, when the number of internally displaced persons and refugees had decreased.  The country had also had to deal with returnees, which posed a significant economic challenge because they often wished to return to war-devastated parts of Croatia.

CLAUDIO ROJAS (Chile) said public funding shortfalls continued to impede the ability of developing countries to achieve the millennium targets, and little progress had been made in technology transfer.  Donor nations must make good on their development-funding pledges and the private sector must step up investment in order to achieve the millennium goals.  More open and equitable trading and monetary regulatory systems were required to increase incentives and opportunities, particularly in the developing world.

Stressing that development efforts should not be duplicated, he said that the effective application of a quantifiable and objective analysis of development targets could lead to socio-economic gains in poorer countries.  In that regard, Chile supported collaboration between the Second and Third Committees for the integrated follow-up to the recent major global conferences on sustainable development and poverty eradication.

GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana) said that his country was strongly committed to the full and effective participation of women in all spheres of national life and that women occupied more than a third of the seats in the national parliament.

Regarding migration, he said that topic was of special importance to Guyana, which had a significant proportion of its population abroad.  In fact, the country’s population could decrease by some estimates over the next 50 years if current migration trends continued.

Highlighting the negative effects of migration, he said brain drain was a significant challenge for developing countries, with negative effects on development. In recent years, several Caribbean countries had witnessed the recruitment of several of their key people in the health and education sectors for employment in the United States and Europe.  On the positive side, a major

spin-off from migration was the remittances sent home, which helped with community-based projects in health, education and entrepreneurship.  In addition, migrants were often instrumental in focusing the attention of their new host countries on their countries of origin.

O’NEIL FRANCIS (Jamaica) called on the international community to shift its focus from the negative effects of migration to ways of maximizing the potential development impact of international migratory flows on countries of origin and destination.  Jamaica was concerned with the lack of significant political support for an international conference on migration, and felt that alternative forums should be considered.  Progress could be made by addressing the issue at a regional level, but the United Nations also had an important role to play in focusing more in-depth attention on the issue.

He said the international community could maximize the benefits of migration and address its challenges by focusing on a comprehensive approach to migration management involving actions by both governments and other stakeholders; taking measures to prevent forced migration as well as the exploitation and abuse of migrant labour; and developing an international mechanism to deal with the links between migration and development.  It could also identify policies to address the loss of skills and human resources in countries of origin and make policies facilitating legal migration more consistent and coherent.

DER KOGDA (Burkina Faso) noted that international migration was an increasingly complex phenomenon, pointing out that approximately 175 million people -- 3 per cent of the world’s global population were displaced; 9 per cent of migrants were refugees.  The number of migrants worldwide had risen 14 per cent between 1990 and 2000.  Many were poor, overworked and underpaid, and women were often sexually exploited by their employers.  Many countries suffered from brain drain as intellectual, scientists and other highly educated and skilled people left in search of better pay and employment opportunities. 

The Secretary-General’s concern over the plight of migrants was indeed warranted, he said, lauding the decision to convene a conference on migrants’ rights aimed at identifying strategies and solutions to migrant problems worldwide.  Migrant issues should be permanently placed on the United Nations agenda, he added. 

KARIN SHAM POO, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), noted that girls denied the chance of education were more prone to disease, violence, abuse and trafficking, and that schools were a powerful protective force in children’s lives.  Education was even more vital in conflict and post-conflict situations, since it provided girls, boys and families with a sense of normal life.  Education was also a channel for promoting peace and tolerance -– essential values without which reconstruction and reconciliation could not take place.

She urged governments to take specific measures when developing policies and implementing programmes for girls’ education.  Those included locating schools closer to children’s homes; providing integrated early childhood programmes; employing an intersectoral approach; making education free; and making schools safe.  Governments should also supply clean water and latrines; eradicate gender bias from textbooks and materials; train teachers in gender sensitivity; and gather gender-specific education statistics.

LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador) said that difficult socio-economic, demographic and political circumstances had caused many people in developing nations to seek better economic fortunes in developed countries and to send their newly acquired wealth back home.  The macroeconomic and developmental impact of such remittances was highly positive, complementing internal savings and filling the pockets of many poor people.  In 2001, remittances had accounted for

9 per cent of Ecuador’s GDP, while exports had accounted for 20 per cent.  In many developing countries remittances exceeded ODA inflows and foreign direct investment (FDI). 

International migration must be dealt with through dialogue and cooperation at the institutional, subregional, regional and international levels, he said.  Protecting the rights of migrants and promoting their socio-economic well-being was a shared responsibility of the international community.

DUPITO SIMAMOIA (Indonesia) said that collective capacity-building and empowering of communities were as important in the face of globalization as developing individual capacity.  Greater support was needed from the international community to complement the efforts of developing countries in implementing policies for human resources development.  Such policies must respond to local needs while considering global realities, such as the movement of trained and untrained individuals in search of employment opportunities overseas.

He said international migration had become central to social, economic and political challenges that had become a pattern around the world, determining the nature and pace of global development.  Migrants should be considered as potential agents of development and a means of strengthening cooperation between the home and host societies.  In maximizing the benefits of international migration, the principles of mutual benefit, equality, mutual respect and sharing of responsibility must always be applied.

GILBERT LAURIN (Canada) lauded the Secretary-General’s report on women’s empowerment, saying its call for further gender-disaggregated studies of the effects of macroeconomic and trade policies were fundamental.  However, its discussion of globalization focused solely on globalization’s negative aspects and excluded its many merits.  For example, trade liberalization reduced the cost of basic goods, having a positive impact on female consumers and heads of households. Globalization also expanded the role of information and communication technologies as a central tool for women’s empowerment and gender equality.  Canada called for the inclusion of gender perspectives in all facets of the World Summit on the Information Society. 

Pointing out the important role of UNIFEM in closing the gender gap, he said Canada was cooperating in that regard, having recently completed negotiations to launch a multi-year programme in South-East Asia to strengthen implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.  The programme would bring together UNIFEM and partner governments, as well as the Division for the Advancement of Women, UNDP, regional and national non-governmental organizations to integrate the Convention’s standards into domestic laws and policies, as well as into the institutional capacity of executive and judicial offices.

LETICIA RAMOS-SHAHANI, Presidential Adviser on Culture of the Philippines, said several factors must be considered in formulating policies on international migration, including international economic imbalances, poverty and environmental degradation, peace and security, human rights violations and varying degrees of development.  In addition, there must be a clear understanding of the intricate links between international migration and sustainable development.

She said remittances from migrant workers benefited their countries of origin and provided an impetus for development.  The role of remittances in development could not be overemphasized, since that hard-earned money affected the lives of hundreds of millions of people in both sending and receiving countries.  The Philippines received $8 billion through formal channels, or, if one counted informal channels, $12 billion annually.  In recognition of the important contribution of migrant workers, the Philippine Government had enacted laws and set up institutions to promote and safeguard their rights and interests.  It also recognized and supported the efforts of United Nations regional commissions in effectively addressing the challenges posed by international migration.

FELIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said ODA had risen just 4.8 per cent in 2002.  If current trends continued, ODA would rise 31 per cent to 0.26 of GDP, which was insufficient to meet the millennium targets.  Various initiatives to inject capital into financial markets, such as the Rio Group’s innovative financial mechanisms for democratic governance and the United Kingdom’s international financial service, clearly illustrated the need for donor countries to make good on ODA pledges.

While lauding the considerable increase in funding for the UNDP, he said it was inadequate to cover all the agency’s funding needs for development work.  Technical cooperation funding had risen 2.4 per cent in 2002 to $7.3 billion.  South-South cooperation had also increased immensely, and its successes should be duplicated elsewhere.  That would require greater participation by the private sector and civil society.  The South-South cooperation conference to be held later this year in Marrakesh, Morocco, was a milestone and should be fully supported.

JOSÉ RAMÓN LORENZO (Mexico) said the development of human resources was vital in attaining development goals, particularly those pertaining to poverty and sustainable development.  Mexico had developed policies emphasizing inclusion, gradual change, dialogue and legality to provide legal certainty for investors and workers.  In developing human resources, the emphasis was on women, young people, vulnerable adults, indigenous communities and people living with HIV/AIDS.  Programmes that had been developed included the Programme of Better Employment for Women in Mexico, and the Opening Spaces Programme for older adults.

Stressing that efforts must be made at the international level to improve the technical expertise and attitudes of people, especially in marginalized communities, he called for the formulation of strategies to further develop human resources in order to reduce the digital divide.

Regarding international migration, he said that issue must be treated comprehensively.  The links between migration and development were complex, requiring international cooperation and the formulation of global responses.

MOHAMED FADHEL AYARI (Tunisia) said that sufficient investment in human resource development was a prerequisite for achieving the millennium targets, a theme underscored at all recent major United Nations conferences and summits.  Developed nations should support the efforts of developing countries towards sustainable development and poverty eradication by earmarking 0.7 per cent of GDP for development assistance, private investment and more equitable trade policies.

Education was key to the human resources of developing countries, he said, adding that one third of Tunisia’s education budget was used towards that end.  Tunisia’s workforce was highly skilled and in high demand throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds.  Women accounted for a significant percentage of the skilled labour pool and, in the past decade, a new generation of businesswomen and women politicians had emerged.  While the number of women heads of companies was still limited, it was in fact growing.  More than 55 per cent of Tunisia’s college students were women and the nation was preparing to diversify and expand women’s presence in the labour force. 

MAJDI RAMADAN (Lebanon) noted the persistent income disparities, labour discrimination and high incidence of poverty among women as well as their still limited access to land and credit.  Lebanon was carrying out several programmes to empower rural and urban women, including a project on health awareness for rural women, which provided knowledge and advice on health issues, family planning and early detection of osteoporosis and breast cancer, as well as sexual education.  Primary education was free and compulsory for women and several training seminars were being conducted in subjects ranging from computer programming to various types of vocational training.

Regarding international migration, he said it brought mutual growth to the countries of origin and those of destination.  Although the movement of skilled labour from the developing world was a brain drain benefiting industrialized countries, migrant remittances provided valuable additional income to the families left behind.  Policies designed to integrate migrants into host societies were vital in avoiding discrimination and xenophobia, which resulted in violations of the human rights of migrants.

SERHIL SAVCHUK (Ukraine) lauded the United Nations Development Group’s continued efforts to align common country assessments and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework with the millennium targets.  The process must continue through practical steps embracing as many United Nations system organizations as possible, particularly the specialized agencies.  Despite some successes in that regard, several challenges continued to impede progress, notably the lack of development financing.  Ukraine urged donor countries to increase ODA and strengthen core funding for United Nations operational activities.

Resource mobilization should be linked to performance, he said.  Ukraine favoured multi-year funding frameworks as an effective tool to sharpen the focus and results-based management of operational agencies.  Such frameworks had successfully broadened the donor base, increased contributions and improved the predictability of resources flows, he said, urging United Nations funds and programmes to adopt them.

ALI YAHYA (Israel) noted that the vast majority of an estimated billion people living in abject poverty at the start of the twenty-first century were women.  Generations of discriminatory practices, including low investment in women’s education and health, had restricted their access to services and credit, while legal constraints had marginalized and undermined their position in society.  That had, in turn, limited their opportunities to participate in decision-making and contributed to the growing gender disparities in the developing world.

A serious problem that must be addressed was recurring violence perpetrated against women, he said.  In the past five years, Israel had made tremendous progress in raising public awareness of the problem.  New legislation, such as laws against violence, sexual harassment and trade in women, had helped protect all women, regardless of their ethnic, religious or economic background, from physical as well as emotional abuse and exploitation.  Israel had 14 shelters for battered women and 50 centres for the prevention of violence against women scattered throughout the country.  There were different shelters for women of different backgrounds, according to their particular cultural and religious needs.

ARMEN MARTIROSYAN (Armenia), pointing out the socio-economic impact of the growing phenomenon of international migration, said workers in developing countries migrated in search of better economic and employment opportunities abroad and sent their paychecks back home.  Such remittances were five to eight times greater than the public assistance such countries received.  Many analysts argued that migration negatively impacted wages and took jobs away from citizens in industrialized nations.  On the other hand, developing countries suffered from brain drain as industrialized nations favoured highly skilled workers over other migrants.

The international community must work towards balancing the needs of both developing and developed nations in that regard, he said.  It must also seek effective solutions to end illegal trafficking and exploitation of migrants, which often yielded high profits for organized crime networks.  The problems relating to international migration were increasing, he said, urging countries to fully support the proposed conference on international migration aimed at addressing those challenges. 

YANKILA SHERPA (Nepal) said human resources development was both the means and an objective of all recent efforts in development.  Strategies to improve human resources must focus on capacity-building and expanding opportunities for all.  Efforts must be made to increase investment in education and healthcare, so that all would have access to basic services.  Nepal had taken far-reaching measures to promote human resource development in recent years, including efforts to provide technical education and improve overall educational standards.  The Government had put in place tertiary and secondary health facilities and encouraged the private sector to invest in those services.

Regarding the empowerment of women, she said societies would remain weak and unbalanced without the equal participation of women.  The international community had taken various measures to address gender inequity, but the problem had persisted.  In Nepal, institutional mechanisms and strategies had been put in place to enforce recent measures to empower women.  Some improvements in the participation of girls and women in society had occurred but disparities in education had persisted.  The educational system had expanded in the last 50 years but it was still inadequate for the needs of the entire population.

Mr. KENYORU (Kenya), noting the important links between poverty eradication and gender equity, said gender mainstreaming was an essential part of all national policy-making that should be incorporated into institutional, economic and legislative frameworks.  As the Secretary-General had pointed out, five of the eight Millennium Development Goals were directly related to health and education.  In Kenya, the negative impact of HIV/AIDS on education continued to undermine the productivity and strength of Kenya’s labour force.

With respect to international migration, the trend of workers leaving developing countries in search of better-paid jobs abroad would not stop, he said.  The international community should focus on balancing the needs and concerns of labour-poor and labour-rich countries.  In that regard, Kenya welcomed the creation of an international migration commission in which the International Organization for Migration should play a central role. 

HUSNIYYA MAMMADOVA (Azerbaijan), noting that human capital was a major linchpin for promoting sustainable economic growth and poverty eradication, stressed that human resources must be developed through adequate institutional frameworks.  The Government of Azerbaijan had accorded a high priority to ensuring access to primary education and creating an adequate infrastructure for

e-education and information communication technologies.  Improving the proficiency level of the labour force would contribute to its competitiveness on the world market and increase the share of each qualified individual in promoting economic growth and eliminating social inequality across regions and societies.

She emphasized that the involvement of women in the economy helped solve major social problems and improved gender balance through the equal participation of men and women in the labour market.  In Azerbaijan, the employment rate among women in industrial regions was noticeably higher than in rural areas.  The reasons for that included the higher number of children in rural families, an insufficient number of nurseries and kindergartens, a shortage of working place and social stereotypes that prioritized men’s labour over that of women.

SHAHID HUSAIN, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that achieving sustainable development depended on recognizing women and men as key actors and agents of change.  That was fully recognized in the OIC, as evidenced by a resolution adopted at the last Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, held in Tehran in May 2003.  It urged members States to adopt a participatory approach, considering women’s needs and their strategic interests, and enabled their participation in all economic and social development projects in their respective countries.

Referring to the often expressed view that women were of inferior status in Islamic society, he said Islam had granted equality to women in all aspects of social and communal life and granted them rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of legitimate happiness, including the rights to own property, acquire education, health benefits and dignified ways of earning a livelihood.  That women in several OIC members States had fallen behind in those areas was a reflection of societal constraints, communal traditions and colonial neglect.  Those anomalies had been recognized and remedial measures were being introduced.

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For information media. Not an official record.