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Why Most Migrants are Women and The Percentage is Increasing Each Year

Jones-Correas, M. (2011). ‘Different Paths: Gender, Immigration and Political Participation ,’ International Migration Review, 32(2):326-49.

Before the 1960’s, most migrants were exclusively males. By 1960, the number of migrant women had risen to 47%, in 1990, the percentage stood at 48% and by year 2000 female migrants constituted 51% of the migrant population. The numbers have been on the rise since then and the majority of migrants in the world today are women. The rising number of female migrants can be attributed to the fact that women are expected to provide economic contribution towards the well-being of their families. The significant increase in the number of female immigrants has led the International Labor Organization to term the phenomenon as the feminization of migration. This is because sex discrimination and gender roles are entwined with globalization. There is also a growing demand for labor in the service sector which is dominated by women. The stereotype that women are docile and can be exploited without complaining has led to demand of their labor by governments and private enterprises since their labor is deemed to be cheap, supplemental and temporary.

Pojmann, W. (2007). Immigrant women and The Feminization of Immigration. Aldershot, England: Burlington, VT.

Migrants often face racial, gender and ethnic discrimination in the host country. Both, male and female migrants face challenges but female migrants are more disadvantaged because gender inequalities combine with racial and ethnic discrimination, women are relegated to working in poorly paid, marginal and unregulated jobs. Their qualifications are not considered and they have to work in jobs below their skill levels. To add more to misery, they are deprived of their social, economic and human rights and are further subjected to trafficking and sexual harassment. In some instances women migrate to foreign countries to re-unite with their husbands who entered the foreign country before them. Upon entering the countries, they seek paid employment but often find themselves at the bottom strata of the labor market. Many governments do not provide social benefits. Exclusion of migrant women from mainstream society is facilitated by racial, gender and class discrimination; biased policies and prejudicial regulations further contribute to the marginalization of migrant women.

Iredale, R. (2004). ‘Gender, Immigration Policies and Accreditation: Valuing the Skills of Professional Women Migrants’, Geoforum 36: 155-166.

Migration is considered as a source of income by many migrant workers and their families. It empowers them with self-confidence, autonomy and improved social status. Migrant women, particularly illegal migrants, face discrimination and stigma at every stage of the migration process. Before departing from their countries of origin, women have to encounter corruption and gender-biased procedures before they can be cleared. Poverty and violence are the major causes of female migration. Migration is seen by many migrant workers as a better way of escape, if compared to human trafficking. During transit to their destinations, women normally phase physical, verbal and sexual abuse. Upon arrival in their host countries they have to deal with myriads of challenges ranging from sex-segregated labor to insecure contracts, long working hours and low wages. Female migration is not an all-negative venture; diaspora investment and remittances provide economic support to the families back at home and the economy of the country of origin. Policies have to be put in place to ensure that migrant women are treated with dignity and that their human rights are safeguarded.

Truong, T. (2008). ‘Gender, international migration, and social reproduction: Implications for theory, policy, research and networking’, Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, vol. 5, pp. 27-52.

Most migrant women leave their countries to seek greener pastures in foreign countries so that they can provide good conditions for their children. They are forced to leave their children and families in their countries of origin. The children, who are left behind, are more often subjected to abuse and neglect. They perform poorly in school, lack the ability to concentrate and fail to improve in spite of additional input by their teachers. Lack of moral support makes them reluctant to participate in extra-curricular activities . The immigrant children exhibit anti-social vices such as cruelty, aggression, hyperactivity and stealing in their behavior. Such children also find it difficult to establish new relationships and they usually have strained relationships with their guardians. The people who are left with the responsibility to care for the children usually abuse them sexually, physically, psychologically and emotionally. The trauma of the experiences makes them lose faith in humanity and to stop regarding trust as a virtue. Most of them also lack role models. Migration of the mother results in poor emotional bonding with the substitute. Limited financial, physical and human resources of the families left behind increase their difficulties. Children of migrant mothers have minimal ability to cope with life challenges.

Passerini, L. (2007). Women migrants from East to West: Gender, mobility in The Context of Globalization. New York: Berghahn Books.

The majority of migrant female workers (both legal and illegal) are bound to find jobs in unregulated sectors of the economy such as domestic work and “off the books” services and criminalized sectors, for instance the sex industry. Their labor rights in particular and human rights in general are violated on a daily basis. Most of the lucrative jobs for migrant workers are found in male-dominated sectors such as the construction industry putting women at an inherent disadvantage. The rights of female migrant workers can be enforced through strict implementation of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The convention does not have a specific article addressing migration or feminized migration. This is because the trend of feminized migration emerged after adoption of the convention. However, there are other articles that uphold the need to respect the human rights of female migrants. It can be used to address any instance of discrimination occurring at any stage of the migration process. The convention eliminates intended or intended restriction or exclusion of women in accessing employment in both private and public life. It stipulates that the rights should be guaranteed through a legislative mechanism by the state parties. Pursuing the provisions of the convention can provide a solution to the challenges faced by migrant female workers.

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