Social Research Digest – June 2012
The report analyses the processes, outcomes and problems associated with the migration of women workers from South Asian countries to the Gulf region, focusing on five major sending countries in South Asia – Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – and six major receiving countries of the Gulf region – Bahrain, Kuweit, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Highlighting the positive economic aspects of migration in South Asia, this report also addresses the areas where women continue to experience injustice, violence and inequality at various stages of the migration cycle.
- In the context of increasing feminisation of international migration, it is more than likely that migration of women from South Asia to the Gulf region will see an increasing trend in future.
- Both demand side (growth of the service sector and care economy) and supply side (limited job opportunities and increasing LFPR among women) factors will drive the escalation in the migration of women workers.
- The process of migration is a highly convoluted one and reflects the power relations and hierarchies in terms of gender, race and other development indicators in the global economy and society.
- Evidence from the study indicates that, with increasing migration, for both the individual migrant and the sending economies, income and welfare are likely to increase with positive multiplier effects on the households and at regional and sub-regional levels.
- In the social and political spheres, these will have enormous consequences as the ensuing empowerment of women will reshape gender and power relations at the micro and macro levels.
- However, it is also more than probable that in the near future, women migrants from South Asia will continue to encounter discrimination and exploitation at different phases of the migration cycle, in both the sending and receiving countries.
- Most of the low skilled women migrants are caught in a web of marginal existence, on account of being women and low skilled migrants working in the confines of the household where the piercing eyes of labour law do not reach.
- It must be noted, however, that the enormous increase in the scale of migration of women has evoked several positive responses from various stakeholders.
- These have to an extent attenuated the insecurities and vulnerabilities of migrant women. At the international level, a number of organisations have engaged constructively to make female migration a central issue in public debate.
- At the national level, there is increasing awareness of the need for the migration policy to be gender-sensitive and also have specialised measures and programmes directed at women migrants.
UN Women and V.V Giri Labour Institute