New York (ANTARA News) - Women constitute half of the estimated 190million international migrants worldwide and are responsible for the largest amount of remittances, the UN Population Fund said Wednesday. Women migrants sent home a total of 232 billion dollars in 2005, of which 167 billion dollars went to developing countries.
Remittances and foreign direct investments are the main sources of economic development in many developing countries.
In an annual report, A Passage to Hope: Women and International Migration, the UN population agency said that remittances could be even higher than reported because migrants often use informal channels. The report focused on the roles of migrant women and their economic impacts on their home countries.
It said that the international community only recently has begun to grasp how much migrant women contribute to the world economy and the social well-being of the population in their home countries.
"Women are migrating and will continue to do so," the report said as reported by DPA."Although women and youth have always made up a considerable proportion of international migrants, their contributions have largely gone unnoticed. Their voices must be heard.
"The report noted that migrants' total remittances were larger than the official development assistance provided by governments, which have been urged to set aside 7 per cent of their gross national products (GNPs) to help poor countries. Only the Nordic countries have met that target.
Of the 1 billion dollars Sri Lanka received in remittances in 1999, more than 62 per cent came from women migrants, the report said. The Philippines annually receives 6 billion dollars in remittances, one-third from women migrants.
Bangladeshi women working in Middle Eastern countries sent home 72 per cent of total remittances in their country, of which 52 per cent were earmarked for families' daily needs, health care and education. Brain drain But international migration has resulted in a brain drain for many countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the migration of women includes many nurses and physicians, depriving home countries of badly needed medical personnel.
Developed countries, where the ageing population requires more medical personnel, benefit from this migration. WHO set a minimum ratio of 100 nurses per 100,000 residents in all countries. Some poor countries have only 10 nurses per 100,000 inhabitants. By contrast, Finland and Norway each have 2,000 nurses per 100,000 inhabitants.
While developing countries have tried to stop the flow of skilled woman migrants, the demands for nurses and doctors has continued to grow in wealthy countries. WHO said that by 2008 Britain would need 25,000 more doctors and 250,000 more nurses than in 1997.
The US has projected the need for an additional 1 million nurses by 2020 because of the ageing population. Canada and Australia projected deficits of 78,000 nurses and 40,000 nurses, respectively, in the next four to five years. "This is partially owing to demographic ageing brought on by lower fertility rates and longer life expectancies in industrialized countries," the report said. (*)