Launch of the State of World Population 2006

Posted by khmernews on June 14, 2007

Statement of Ms. Alice Levisay
Representative a.i., UNFPA Cambodia
Launch of the State of World Population 2006
September 06, 2006
Phnom Penh

Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon,

It is a pleasure to launch the State of World Population Report 2006 here in Cambodia. The focus of this year’s report is on women and international migration. It is also a pleasure to launch the companion report that focuses on youth. This is a new initiative that we have undertaken at the United Nations Population Fund, which we hope to do every year to offer a youth perspective on the main theme. With so many young people in the world today-and many of them on the move-the urgent need to hear their views and to work with them for human rights, we believe the youth report is an idea whose time has come.

This year’s State of World Population Report focuses on women and international migration. It is a call to action to improve the situation of women migrants, who make up half of all international migrants worldwide. It is a call for greater cooperation by governments to ensure a win-win situation for all.

Of the world’s 191 million international migrants, 95 million are women. They often work behind the scenes and their work goes largely unrecognized. But women migrants contribute a great deal both to the families and communities in their host countries, and back home. Studies show that women migrants tend to send a larger share of their earnings back home than male migrants, and they keep households running as domestic workers and providers of care. And because female migrants are exposed to new situations, many of them contribute new ideas, skills and attitudes that help boost development and promote grater equality between women and men in their countries of origin.

Yet despite their huge numbers and substantial contributions to both families and countries abroad and back home, women migrants are too often ignored, disenfranchised and abused.

This report calls on governments and individuals to recognize and value the contributions of migrant women and promote and respect their human rights. There is an urgent need for stronger cooperation between countries to make migration more safe and fair. And there is a dire need for action to address the lack of opportunities and the human rights violations that lead many women to migrate in the first place.
The stories of women migrants are as diverse as the backgrounds they come from. They are domestic workers, and caretakers of the sick, children and elderly. They are farm labourers, waitresses, sweatshop workers, and highly skilled professionals. They are teachers, nurses, entertainers, sex workers, refugees and asylum seekers. They are young and old, married and single, divorced and widowed. Some are mail-order brides. Many migrate with children. Others are forced to leave them behind. While The State of World Population report highlights these issues, the companion Moving Young report actually brings to life the real stories of 10 young migrants and lends a human face to the issue and experience of migration.

The report shows that, while migration can open new doors to a world of greater equality and opportunity, it can also lead to terrible human rights violations-cases of migration gone bad. From the enslavement of trafficking victims to the exploitation and abuse of domestic workers, millions of female migrants face hazards that must be urgently addressed.

Today, human trafficking is the third most lucrative illicit business in the world after arms and drug trafficking. And as we point out in the report, widespread discrimination and violence against women, and restrictive immigration policies that limit opportunities to migrate safely and legally, fuel the trafficking trade. As you know, this trade is very closely tied to sexual exploitation and abuse, and many victims are forced into sex work against their will. Although awareness and action against trafficking are growing, there is an urgent need to do more to end this terrible crime. The report calls for greater cooperation between and within countries to bring traffickers to justice and to provide services and human rights protection for trafficking victims.

Another focus of the report is domestic work. Today, women from Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and increasingly from Africa, are migrating to Europe and North America, the Gulf States and the industrializing nations of Asia, to fill a growing demand for domestic workers. In fact, domestic work is one of the largest sectors driving international female labour migration. And because it takes place in the home, away from the public sphere, it has not received the public policy attention it deserves.

Domestic workers are rarely protected by labour laws or allowed to organize. This leaves many dependent on employers for legal status, basic needs such as housing and food, and the payment of due wages. It also leaves them vulnerable to abuse. The report calls on governments to protect the rights of domestic workers.

Another manifestation of female migration is the massive outflow of nurses from the developing world. In Europe, there are 10 times more nurses per capita than in Africa and South-east Asia. And demand is growing. In Europe and North America, ageing populations and a shortage of nurses and doctors are driving the demand for health workers. In poorer countries, skilled women and men are increasingly turning to migration as a means to improve their own lives and those of their families. But their countries are facing a health-care crisis unprecedented in the modern world. Given the nature and scope of the problem, there is a need for the global coordination and management of health human resources.

The realities and needs of women migrants highlight the shortcomings and the dark side of globalization, and the persistence of poverty, gender inequality and exploitation. This report is a call to action to address these gapes and needs in a more effective, coordinated and urgent manner. It is a call for grater cooperation between governments to ensure a win-win situation for all.

The State of World Population 2006 comes only days before a high-level dialogue on International Migration and Development next week in New York, at the United Nations. It is the first to bring the world’s government together to discuss international migration.

We very much hope that this report’s message-to recognize the contributions of women migrants and protect their human rights-wil be heard and acted upon at next week’s historic meeting.

Now is the time for vision and leadership on behalf of women migrants. Labour and human rights protection and sound immigration policies can ensure that migration for women is truly a passage to hope.

Thank You.


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