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MNCs risk raising gender inequalities : UNCTAD

Geneva, Oct 14 While foreign investment has had a positive impact on women’s empowerment through creating formal employment and business linkages, the operations of transnational corporations also risk increasing women’s vulnerability as well as gender inequalities, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in a report released Tuesday.

“The potential positive impact of foreign investment on women’s empowerment through the creation of formal employment and business linkages is considerable, but the operations of transnational corporations (TNCs) also risk increasing women’s vulnerability in the workplace or exacerbating gender inequality,” UNCTAD said on the report “Investment by TNCs and Gender”, launched at the UNCTAD World Investment Forum here.

Making the argument for targeted policies and corporate action to ensure that the work of TNCs translate into real benefits for women in developing countries, the report identifies a number of risks like poor working conditions and limited access to training for women, especially in low-paid activities or in the informal sector.

Women employees are more at risk of being marginalized when firms upgrade or when low-cost, labour-intensive industries decline, it said.

Earlier, heads of dozens of transnational corporations, heads of state and government and other sustainable development stakeholders gathered for the opening of the four-day World Investment Forum that was addressed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon through video.

“There is a strong business case for investing in sustainability. Private sector approaches can help us to innovate. This forum helps to forge such links,” Ban said.

“Faced with common global economic, social and environmental challenges, the international community is defining a set of sustainable development goals to replace the millennium development goals when they expire next year,” said UNCTAD secretary general Mukhisa Kituyi.

In an interview with IANS held in New Delhi earlier, Kituyi had said India has crucially placed the domestic market as the driver of its economic development, which strategy is also a major prescription for sustainable recovery of the global economy post the financial crisis that began in 2008.

“India’s public investment and wage policies are structured to enhance the growth of the country’s middle class, which is one of the main prescriptions for the sustainable recovery of the global economy, particularly the global South,” said the chief of UNCTAD, set up in 1964 as a forum for developing countries to discuss issues related to their economic development.

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