DISCRIMINATION A KEY BARRIER TO WOMEN MIGRANTS CONTRIBUTION TO DEVELOPMENT
BUCURESTI - 7 martie 2005
Comunicat tip General in Social
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The economic clout of women migrants could be even more powerful and their contribution to global development enormous if they did not have to face discrimination and inequality in the workforce, says IOM as it marks International Women’s Day.
With more women migrating in their own right for work these days, their contribution to home economies through remittances is a growing and highly significant force. Women make up nearly 50 per cent of an estimated 185 million migrants who in turn send close to US$100 billion home in official remittances every year. Much more is probably sent through unofficial transfers and these figures do not take into account the enormous contribution of migrants in skills, knowledge and other non-economic benefits.
Sri Lankan female migrants in 1999 were already contributing more than 62 per cent of more than one billion dollars in remittances. Now, with women making up 80 per cent of Sri Lanka’s migrant labour force according to the IOM’s upcoming World Migration Report 2005, that figure can only be higher.
However, women’s contributions to both remittances and development as a whole would be even stronger if they were not discriminated against in terms of pay, access to skilled jobs or taking out loans to set up businesses.
“Ten years on from the World Conference on Women in Beijing, we are still seeing significant obstacles to gender equality. Not only do migrant women face many hurdles in obtaining skilled jobs but in whatever jobs they do, they are significantly lower paid than men and remain vulnerable to exploitation,” said Ndioro Ndiaye, Deputy Director General of IOM.
Women by and large send back home a greater share of their income in remittances than men and also tend to be better savers. In addition, women are the largest receivers of remittances and when in control of finances, this means better health, nutrition and education for the family, which supports the development of stronger and more productive communities.
Women migrants can also contribute to development and poverty reduction upon returning home through the use of micro-credits on income generating enterprises. However, in many developing countries, women can’t take out loans by themselves or officially hold deeds to land and property.
“Making it easier for women to take out micro-credits would bring several benefits,” adds Mrs. Ndiaye. “It encourages enterprise instead of dependency, it can mean a self-sustaining business, and it is an effective means for women to improve their own situation and that of their families and so develop their own sense of self-worth and confidence.”
IOM has worked to achieve these objectives through several programmes in recent years. Among these is a programme for returning qualified nationals and another one focused on migration for development in Africa. Both programmes have elements that train women in creation of micro-enterprises through a system of revolving funds.
It is equally important to inform women who to want to migrate on the options for legal migration and to prepare for their migration process. This can include assistance to complete the required paperwork and advice on employment systems and other requirements in their country of destination.
In the Philippines, the IOM project “The Power to Choose” is helping women migrant workers confront the many new personal challenges that affect their security, productiveness, longevity and support to family and community back home. Using multi-media techniques and real situations, IOM shares key messages and responses to difficulties facing migrants. This video training system has proved to be an effective tool to promote better migrant awareness, preparation and response.
Clear measures are needed to address existing discrimination against migrant women in order for countries of origin and destination to reap all the benefits of labour migration. The potential for development is huge, but only if women migrants are both paid and treated on an equal footing with men.
Despre Organizatia Internationala pentru Migratie, Misiunea din Romania
Având în componenţă 109 state membre şi 29 de state cu statut de observator şi beneficiind de suportul unei largi varietăţi de organizaţii reprezentând societatea civilă, OIM este dedicată principiului conform căruia migraţia umană organizată aduce beneficii atât migranţilor, cât şi societăţii. Ca organism interguvernamental, OIM acţionează împreună cu partenerii săi din comunitatea internaţională pentru respectarea reală a demnităţii şi bunăstării migranţilor, pentru încurajarea dezvoltării sociale şi economice prin migraţie, pentru acordarea de asistenţă operaţională pe probleme de migraţie şi pentru promovarea înţelegerii problemelor migraţiei.
Daniel Kozak, Ofiţer de informaţii publice, tel. 021 231-3179, fax 021 230-3614