Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland
to the United Nations
SECOND COMMITTEE of the
60th SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Item 56: Eradication of poverty and other development issues
(b) Women in Development
Thank you Mr. Chairman
Of the three important and inter-related issues under the item on our agenda today, namely eradication of poverty and other development issues much has already been said this morning, which we agree on, but please let me limit myself to a few comments on Item 56(b), Women in development.
I would like to begin by thanking the Secretary General for his thorough report on the progress made in the implementation of GA resolution 58/206 on women in development, including the impact of globalization on the empowerment of women and their integration in development. We fully agree with the Secretary General that it is highly relevant today to focus on the benefits and challenges faced by women as a result of the growth of the service sector.
In recent years increased trade in services has been a major source of global economic growth. I would like to highlight the fact, mentioned in the report, that the cross-border movements of persons has become the main vehicle for greater participation by women in exports of services in developing countries, which is a positive side of increased international trade in services. The downside of it is that the flexibility of labour can lead to the loss of formal contracts, social security and other social benefits.
It is worrying that the current trends in women’s employment are heading in the wrong direction, with lower wages and deterioration in the terms and conditions of employment. One of the reasons is that women are more likely to find employment in the informal economy than men. I note that the report says that there has been a shift to temporary migration and an increase in undocumented migrants, which often results in illegal trafficking in human beings. This is a disturbing trend which needs to be dealt with.
The fight against trafficking in human beings should be a priority for all, as most states are affected either as countries of origin, countries of transit or countries of destination. It remains one of Iceland’s priorities and we have put considerable efforts into raising public awareness on what such trafficking involves. With this aim in mind, three conferences have been held within the last three years on various aspects of trafficking in persons. We have actively participated in the international fight against this serious crime through the Nordic Ministerial Council by participating in a Nordic-Baltic Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings. The fight against human trafficking is also one of the main priorities in our work within the OSCE. Since 2003 Iceland has financed a female anti-trafficking officer within the OSCE Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina and since 1999 Iceland has financed a gender specialist which works for UNIFEM in Kosovo. Moreover, in its criteria for receiving refugees Iceland has put particular emphasis on women that are defined by UNHCR as “women at risk”.