Multilateral financial institutions should be reformed to give emerging nations more influence, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Wednesday in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

"For the first time, the voice of a woman opens the debates of the General Assembly. I am convinced that this will be the century of women," Brazil's first female head of state said to applause.

The global economic crisis is "too serious to be managed by a small group of countries," Rousseff said in an apparent allusion to the G-7, which comprises the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Britain.

"Everyone has the right to participate in the solutions" and the world also needs a U.N. Security Council that "reflects contemporary reality" and the importance of the developing nations, she said.

"Brazil is prepared to assume its responsibility as a permanent member" of the council, Rousseff said, reiterating the South American giant's long-standing demand for a position on the top U.N. body.

The Security Council now has five permanent members - the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France - and 10 rotating seats.

India, South Africa and Nigeria have also put forward claims to a permanent spot on the Security Council.

The General Assembly session that began Wednesday is likely to be marked by developing countries' demands for an overhaul of global institutions now dominated by the United States and the European Union.

That debate, however, will have to wait for a resolution of the Palestinians' bid for U.N. recognition, an initiative strongly opposed by the United States.

Rousseff came down firmly Wednesday on the side of recognizing Palestine, asserting that "only a free, sovereign state will be able to legitimate desires for peace with its neighbors."