Gender and MigrationBy: Oriana Marsh, Vera Mirhady, and Yvonne Su
OutlineIntroduction: What is gender?Gender in the Migratory Process - Helma LutzFeminisation of Migration and the Social Dimensionsof Development: the Asian case - Nicola PiperShort FilmDiscussion GroupsConclusion
Introduction: What is Gender POP QUIZ QUESTION #1
Gender vs. SexAccording to the World HealthOrganization: “Sex” refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that deﬁne men and women “Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women
Gender in Migration ScholarshipUntil the 1970s, most researchfocused exclusively on malemigrants.In the 1970s and 1980s,scholarship began to focus onthe experience of femalemigrants.Initially, the introduction of theconcept of gender intomigration studies meant simplyadding women to the male bias.
Gender as a Concept“Gender is not simply avariable to be measured, but aset of social relations thatorganize immigrationpatterns. The task, then, is...to begin with an examinationof how gender relations...facilitate or constrain bothwomen’s and men’simmigration and settlement.”- Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo
Gendered Geographies of PowerA framework forexamining genderacross transnationalspaces.Composed of threefundamental elements:geographical scales,social locations, andpower geometries.
Geographical ScalesGender operatessimultaneously on multiplespatial and social scales acrosstransnational terrains.When looking at gender andmigration, think about theimpact on the macro-, meso-,and micro- levels.Ex. the body, the family, thestate
Social LocationsPerson’s positions withininterconnected power hierarchiescreated through historical,political, economic, geographic,kinship-based, and other sociallystratifying factors.Imagine a social locationcontinuum from mostdisadvantaged to most privilegedand locate people in diﬀerent sitesalong it, roughly identifying theplaces and predicaments fromwhich they may take action.
IntersectionalityIntersectionality examines how various socially andculturally constructed categories such as gender, race,and class interact on multiple and often simultaneouslevels, contributing to systematic social inequality.Intersectionality holds that the system of oppressionreﬂects the intersection of multiple forms ofdiscrimination.
Power GeometriesThe types and degrees of agency people exert given theirsocial locations.People’s social locations aﬀect their access to resources andmobility across transnational spaces, but also their agency asinitiators, reﬁners, and transformers of these locations.
Male/Female Dichotomyand the Agency DebateFemale migrant: Victim or Agent? Voluntary orinvoluntary migrant?Male migrant: Victim or Agent? Voluntary orinvoluntary migrant?
POP QUIZ QUESTION # 3 What are some female dominated labour markets? What are some male dominated labour markets?
The Labour MarketLabour markets are gendered“Feminized” domains of work(domestic, entertainment,care work, prostitution)“Male dominated” domains orwork (trucking, construction)Diﬀerent and similarexperiences for male andfemale migrants
Care PracticesRich families“outsource...the three c’s”to migrant womenEﬀects of “femalebreadwinners” on families Example: Mohamed Mansaray, 25 years old, deported from WinnipegBurden of care falls onwomen
Discourses and Transnational Parenting“The absence of migratedfathers is more widelyaccepted than the absenceof mothers” (Lutz, 1653)‘“Euro-orphan”
Transnational Parenting“Bhutanese childrenare often lefttemporarily fatherlessdue to migrant work,leaving families underthe care of mothers andolder brothers.” -Benjamin Graham
Feminisation of Migration and the SocialDimensions of Development: the Asian Case Nicola Piper
Linking Migration & DevelopmentShift from the economic tothe social women use migration as an escape routeAsian women migrate “forthe sake of the family”
Pros and ConsResearch on earlier intra-Asian migration found that: On the one hand women beneﬁted from higher levels of independence and decision-making power; but the strain of the increased workload and responsibilities was in some cases found to have had negative implications.
Feminisation of Migration in AsiaAsia as a whole is one of thetwo regions in the worldwhere there were stillslightly more males thanfemales migrants by theyear 2005.The bulk of women comesfrom Philippines, SriLanka and Indonesia.
VisibilityThe out-going ﬂows ofwomen from Indonesia,Sri Lanka, and thePhilippines make up65%-75% of workerswho are deployed legallyon an annual basis.International marriagesare not included in oﬃcialstatistics
MarriageIt was recentlyimpossible for a femaleprofessional migrant tobring her husband as‘accompanyingspouse’ (although thishas always been possiblefor male professionals).
Feminisation of Migration in Asia cont.women dominate in jobsconnected to socialreproduction (eg childcare, domestic work) orwork which requires“nimble ﬁngers” (egtextiles)women also migrate inresponse to the greatdemand for sexual labour
POP QUIZ QUESTION #5What does “de-skilling” mean?
Migrant rights“Issue of de-skilling” well educated women doing low-skilled work due to the relative inability to access legal channelsRestrictive migration policiesand legally unrecognized workof migrants pose seriouslimitationsto women’smigrants’ chances of personalsocioeconomic empowerment.
Increasing trendsAiming to improve theirlivelihoods and that oftheir families in the faceof rising male un- andunder- employment,increasing numbers ofwomen seek work inforeign countries indiﬀerent types ofoccupations.
Discussion QuestionsDo you think the stereotype of the ‘lone, rugged male’migrant worker has persisted? If not, what is thestereotype of a ‘typical’ migrant today?How do you react to the following statement? “Female migration seems to be seen as unproblematic as long as it is restricted to unmarried, young and single females, but it is seen as a threat for social coherence where it concerns mothers of young children.” (Lutz, 1656)
Discussion QuestionsAre men and women diﬀerent in their ability tocontribute to the local and global economy and acountry’s development?What are the social consequences of the feminisationof migration in receiving countries? Will their attitudestowards migrants become less hostile as females areseen as less threatening than men?
Discussion QuestionsCompare and contrast the migratory experiences of thetwo Nepalese women in the ﬁlm. How does this relateto the concept of social location?Is the femnisation of migration a positive force forwomen’s rights in sending countries or does it play anegative role in reenforcing gender divisions of labour?
Final Thoughts“Gender is not simply avariable to be measures, but aset of social relations thatorganize immigrationpatterns. The task, then, is...to begin with an examinationof how genderrelations...facilitate orconstrain both women’s andmen’s immigration andsettlement.” - PierretteHondagneu-Sotelo
Migrant RightsRights are one of the mostimportant ways in which toaddress the fundamental rootcauses of migration.Restrictive migration policiesand legally unrecognizedwork of migrants pose seriouslimitations to femalemigrants’ chances of personalsocioeconomicempowerment.
Discourse and PoliciesIt’s important to lookat the discourse andpolicies in both sendingand receiving countriesin relation to genderand gender inequalityin migration andmigrants lives.
THANKS FOR COMING TO CLASS AND LISTENING TO US! Gender and Migration By: Oriana Marsh, Vera Mirhady, and Yvonne Su
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