Warsaw, 15-17 January 2001
OPENING STATEMENT BY Ms. D. HÜBNER
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF
THE ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR EUROPE
At the Regional Workshop
organized by UN/ECE, UNIFEM and the World Bank
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Transition is a process of a grand social change which brings dramatic challenges to all dimensions of economic, social and human development. On the one hand, it generates the rise of unemployment and job insecurity. On the other, however, new opportunities emerge that are related to entrepreneurship and private sector development. Today we know that those risks and opportunities are distributed in a very uneven way, of which gender is a major dimension.
Transition-related changes in labour markets have become a major challenge to national policy makers, but in addressing the problem of gender and labour market, there is a place for everyone – local and central governments, financial institutions, non-governmental organizations and for us, international organizations.
For international organizations which have similar interests and complementary expertise in gender-related activities, the need to cooperate on regional and subregional levels is a must. Through this cooperation we can provide a forum where expertise from countries with economies in transition which have been most successful in addressing the problem we discuss today can be shared and more efficiently used. We have accumulated a rich stock of good practices in the area of women’s entrepreneurship. Also, there is already a rich stock of national policies for enterprise development which can be a major instrument for enhancing women’s employment. We must work together to make these policies more gender sensitive. Gender dimension adds at least three major issues to these policies: the equality of access to jobs, the creation and development of family support system and the stimulation of self-employment and female entrepreneurship.
To efficiently address these problems, we need to know more about the existing barriers and chances. We can work together on collecting information which exist, we can better exploit the potential of best practices which exist. We can exploit the potential of lessons already learnt and we can work together, establishing networks that would allow us to fully use existing comparative advantages, and be more efficient in awareness raising. Today, we are in a better position than years ago because information technology has offered us the possibility of electronic networking. As international organizations, we have direct access to contacts with our member states which makes us more efficient in awareness raising and in our advocacy work.
Let me stress also the importance of our joint work on regional and subregional levels. The problem of gender and labour market is certainly a one which can benefit from such an approach. To achieve progress, however, we need a dialogue on the assessment of problems, on strategies and policy priorities. We need partnerships-type involvement in programming activities, we need joint task teams. We all bring different value added into what we can do to make labour market women-friendly. Some of us are better in policy analysis and priority setting, in norm and standard setting, others have country offices and are better poised to actions on a country level; yet others are best in mobilizing financing. Our cooperation can be even more efficient if linked to what governments, civil society and business community can do.