Subject: [fem-women2000 76] NGO Statement 27th Oct on Economic Empowerment Working Group
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Sat, 30 Oct 1999 23:42:31 +0900
Seq: 76

Statement by the Economic Empowerment Working Group

The Asia Pacific NGO Caucus for the ESCAP High Level Meeting to Review
Regional Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action has reviewed
the commitments made by the State parties to the BPA.  

Consistent with your commitment we call upon you to adopt the actions
outlined in the Statement prepared by the Working group on the Economic
Empowerment for Women consisting of the following organisations: Public
Services International, FIJI Women's Rights Movement, Vietnam Women's
Union, FIJI National Council of Women, Stree Aadhar Kendra India,
Kitakyushu Forum on Asian Women, Asian Women's Conference network,
Pacific YWCA, Thai Women's Watch, UNIFEM Beijing, Forum for Women of
Kyrgyzstan, Voluntary Health Association Of India and Guild of services
of India.

The globalisation of economies continues to exacerbate inequalities
between men and women in employment opportunities, wages and
occupational categories. In addition, globalisation through structural
adjustment programs and the increasing role of multinational companies
leads to the continuation of the cycle of poverty of vulnerable groups
of women.  

Globalisation of the economy has accelerated income disparity and
economic reform policies have lead to the state withdrawing from their
role as primary providers of social and health services.  As a
consequence the privatisation of health services has seen a shift in
health spending from preventative and health promotion to curative care.
Health care is increasingly becoming a commodity resulting in reduced
access and increased indebtedness of health care recipients.

The economic empowerment of women working group calls upon governments
and civil society to enact the following strategies to combat the
negative effects of globalisation.

* WTO and Governments should ensure all global trade agreements to
include the obligations enshrined in ILO Convention on fundamental
labour rights including ILO Convention 100 Equal Remuneration and
Convention 111 Discrimination (employment and occupation) 

* Governments implement the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles
and Rights at Work and its Follow Up.  (This Declaration determined that
all members of the ILO have an obligation to comply with fundamental
labour rights covered by ILO Conventions, whether they have ratified the
Convention or not.  ILO Conventions 29, 87, 98, 100, 111, 105 and 138
are recognised as fundamental rights as work).

* Governments should maintain and enforce labour laws in export process

* Governments should ensure that local and indigenous knowledge,
resources; property rights exist and are enforced.  

* Strengthen the working of UN Agencies such as Economic and Social
Council and UNCTAD.  Restore the status of UNCTAD as the guiding body
for trade and development as they relate to developing countries.

* Restore and strengthen UN Conventions on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, the principles of the foundation of UNCTAD and safeguard the
provision of essential social development services.

* Governments to consider the social and gender implications of SAPs
before implementation.

* Governments should move away from the market driven provision of
health care to fully take up their responsibility as the primary
provider of health services with focus on prevention and health
promotion. (ALMA ATA 1978)

Women in Poverty
The working group stressed that poverty is increasing throughout the
region and that the manifestations of the impact of globalisation
continue to be felt.  The working group identified a number of policies
that aggravate and contribute to the feminisation of poverty.  These
include privatisation and corporatisation of knowledge and resources as
well as public services, trade liberalisation, deregulation of economies,
withdrawal of subsidies, downsizing of government, substitution of food
production by cash crop and the inflow of foreign capital and enterprise.
The working group indicated these measures have led to unemployment,
underemployment, retrenchment and the shift of labour from formal to the
informal sector and regular to unprotected, subcontracted labour of
women workers.  

Feminisation of poverty increases with the increase in poverty.  The
international trade regimes have increased the gap between the rich and
the poor countries and the rich and poor within the countries - Human
Development Report, 1999.  With the increase in extreme poverty, there
is an increase in diseases of poverty as stated in World Health Report,
1995 for which a new international classification of disease for extreme
poverty that is, ICD Z59.5.

The working group calls upon governments to implement the following

* National and international institutions must develop the holistic
definition of poverty so that comparisons over time and across regions
can be made.

* Fundamental institutions and other credit institutions must provide
break through credits to women for increasing their income on a
continuous basis.

* Poverty eradication programs must address gender inequalities within
and outside the households.

* Governments must enact laws to protect equal property rights for women.

* The international trade regimes must be gender sensitive and also
sensitive to the needs of the poor and marginalised. 

Economic Participation
The working group noted with disappointment that women of the region
continued to struggle to access finance and other economic resources at
both micro and macro levels.  At the micro level women still lack equal
control of household expenditure from the income that they now largely
generate from their own labour.

At the macro level, prevailing business practices continue to
marginalise women's enterprises and small businesses from sources of
capital and information.  The access of low-income women in particular
to capital, credit and technology remains poor despite the claimed
successes of micro credit programs. 

Provision for social security benefits for women workers remain
inadequate in many countries.  

We call on the Asia Pacific Governments to:

* Re-examine the impact of micro credit and income generating programs
in genuinely empowering women economically and socially.

* Rapidly expand the provision of credit and capital to the poorest of
poor women and provide supporting infrastructure

* Work for the creation of economic platforms where women will have
control of financial resources, to enhance their empowerment.

* Review and /or abolish laws discriminating between women and men on
rights to property land inheritance and other resources

* Implement or review social security systems to ensure women are
equally and adequately protected as men.

Unpaid Work
The working group is concerned about the impact of globalisation and
economic restructuring resulting in increased work loads for women
(leading to double burden), including low-paid and unpaid work, as well
as reductions in social security provisions.  

* Government and corporations should provide adequate facilities and
support mechanisms to harmonise work and family responsibilities for
women and men.

* Governments to measure and value unpaid work with a system of
co-ordination between the national machinery and the statistics division.

* Governments to improve statistics which underestimate women's
unemployment and underemployment. 

* Governments to ratify ILO Convention 156 - Workers with Family
Responsibilities and Recommendation 165 

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