Filter +

Globalization: The Promises and The Perils, U.S. and Asian Responses

Informatics Creative Commons photo-patchwork. (musha68000/Flickr)

Informatics Creative Commons photo-patchwork. (musha68000/Flickr)

Within the East Asian countries, we see some difficulties on migration movements of labor between the Philippians, Indonesia and Malaysia. We see it between India and Bangladesh; between Bangladesh and Pakistan; between Sri Lanka and Pakistan; Nepal and Bhutan. These are all examples today - practical examples - of some of the difficulties of labor movements and their consequences after long term movement and living of people in certain countries not of their origin, but after twenty-five, thirty, forty years - in some cases fifty years - their offspring's really regard as their own countries, yet they are regarded as foreigners. This is a politic issue that is there in many regions - in all regions - and it is a global issue as well between North and South.

The new economy is drawing also investments into Asia and creating wealth in many countries beyond the original tiger economies. They should be guided by the tiger's experiences so as to avoid the same pitfalls. The first lesson I think for all our countries is to spread the wealth more evenly and you hear that in all of our societies, despite all of the progress of the last thirty years, there's still nine hundred million poor people in the Asia and Pacific region.

Growing wealth alone will not eradicate poverty as we learn from the lessons of the fifties and sixties. In fact, the disadvantages of poverty are likely to become bigger and not smaller as wealth increases unless specific actions are taken to counteract them. More private ability to pay for services tends to mean less emphasis on public provision. The opposite should be the case. Investments in public health and education must be increased in good times to narrow the gap and to equip the poor people to help themselves.

The second lesson is to pay special attention to the needs of women. The changes over the last thirty years have meant a new life for many women, especially in cities. But two-thirds of the region's poor in Asia are women. For them, life has not changed very much, especially in the villages. Compared with some of the women in the cities and in the upper income groups, rural women and the poor have less personal freedom; they are less likely to have an education and access to health services including reproductive health services and they are much more likely to get pregnant unintentionally; much more likely to die as a result of pregnancy.

Maternal mortality, for example, in Singapore is about four per hundred thousand, which is like the developed society. But in Bangladesh for example, it's eight hundred. It's the same in some other parts of South Asia. Even in a country like Indonesia, where in fact size of family has reduced tremendously - family planning is very, very effective - but maternal mortality still remains extremely high.

The number of Asian women living in poverty has increased disproportionately over the past decade, compared to the number of men. A lot of men have migrated to other countries or to the big cities in search of work and this has placed an additional burden on women, especially those with children or on old people that are left behind. The proportion of Asian households headed by women, ranges from twenty to forty percent. This is quite staggering because we assume in Asia that most families are headed by men, but in fact, the number of women headed households is really quite high in many communities. Women headed households seem to be more likely to be poor. There is also for poor women in Asia's economic growth an increasingly urban lifestyle. The greater inequality can mean more crime and women and children are the most vulnerable. The creation of new types of jobs and growing labor mobility can mean growing risk. Greater disposable wealth spawns new varieties of urban crime, such as the drug trade and trafficking in human beings.