Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Reflections on women migrants on International Women’s Day 2011

By Angela Haynes

About 50% of people who migrate are women, and despite discussion of the ‘feminisation of migration’ this figure has changed little since 1960.  However, we still know very little about the women who migrate and the effects of their migration, especially within and between developing countries. We know that often they migrate to engage in low paid roles such as domestic or health care workers, however they also migrate in order to marry, or to be reunited with a spouse who migrated earlier, in addition to migrating due to emergency situations and disasters. 

We need to know more about the factors which cause them to migrate, the drivers at individual and macro societal levels. Although we know that women who migrate as workers often send regular cash remittances earned abroad to families in their countries of origin on a regular basis, we need to know more about whether such remittances are used for different purposes to those sent by male migrants. While discussions focused on women and migration have often stressed the vulnerability of women to exploitation, discrimination and abuse, some findings have indicated that the process of migration can also support women's empowerment,  whether it is the woman who has migrated or not.

Awareness of the different impact of migration drivers, impact and policy on men and women permeates the work of the Migrating out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium. As the consortium, currently in its inception phase, progresses we will be addressing some of these issues in depth and identifying policy approaches to improve prospects for women migrants, their families and communities.

Angela Haynes is the Research Uptake Manager of the Migrating Out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium at the University of Sussex