Speech by Executive Director at an open event for migrants in Hanoi

Speech by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, at an open event for migrants, Hanoi, 30 March 2014.


[Check against delivery]

Thank you for the opportunity to meet you and to speak to you today.

Every year the number of people migrating into cities increases.

As you know, the majority of migrants are young and increasingly female.

And a majority of you move alone, leaving your family behind in the community of origin.

The number of women migrating has increased steadily over the last decade in Vietnam. 

According to official data, about 40 to 50 per cent of migrants to Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City are women. 

As you know best, migration can have a profound social impact on people’s lives.

It can disrupt family relationships.

It can be hard on children.

And it can lead to a much greater burden of work for women.

This can be further complicated by stressful living.

Limited basic amenities and a lack of access to social services can have a direct impact on migrants’ health and well-being.

I understand that the new labour code has recently recognized domestic workers, which is a positive step forward.  

UN Women is well aware that women employed as domestic workers can be particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence.

Domestic work is often hidden from the outside world, making it difficult to monitor and regulate. 

We are also aware that female migrants have poorer access to health care than males. 

According to a study in three cities – Hai Phong, Quang Ninh and Ho Chi Minh – nearly 50 per cent of women migrant workers do not have health insurance.

And 99 per cent of migrants working in informal sectors do not have social insurance or work related insurance.

The decision to migrate should not lead to hardship. 

Migrants must have the same human rights as everyone, and laws and policies need to reflect this.

At UN Women we are working to ensure that policies and services guarantee the rights of migrants.

For example, UN Women has recommended changes to health insurance legislation, so that health insurance could be offered to migrant workers.

Here, we are working with the Institute of Community Health and Development to strengthen the socio economic rights of rural migrant women, especially those working in the informal sector. 

The project that you are part of is designed to help migrant workers get information and knowledge about health and social insurance.

It helps you access your pending insurance claims, to combat gender-based violence and to access legal protection services and timely redress.

This project also offers mentoring and ‘on the job’ training.

It is designed to enable women to come together in groups and set up their own business enterprises. 

The project will assist with accessing administrative support, access to banking and to business management training. 

We are organizing advice on available opportunities to apply for jobs, and to join cooperatives where you can borrow money.

UN Women will also be happy to partner with the Government of Vietnam in helping support implementation of existing social protection policy to meet the needs of migrants, especially of girls and women.

I want to conclude by stating clearly that migrants are an integral and important contributor to Viet Nam’s socioeconomic development. 

Migrant women and their families are entitled to opportunities and support.  

That is an achievable goal. 

You can play your part by being aware of your rights, and taking up the opportunities that a project like this offers.  

Thank you.