"Women's Labour Migration in the Context of Globalisation" - the new publication of

News author: WIDE
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2010-10-18 12:58:31 / News read 1428 reading

he new publication from WIDE, entitled "Women's Labour Migration in the Context of Globalisation" offers an introduction to important contemporary political analysis on the influence of globalisation on women´s work, mobility and empowerment. Authors of the report Anja K. Franck and Andrea Spehar highlight how globalisation shapes women´s labour migration.

Women migrate for work across the globe in many different sectors; the analysis of internal and intra-regional migration patterns shows that many of them find work in agriculture and export-oriented sectors, where women’s relatively low wages constitute a comparative advantage. In these sectors, working conditions are often exploitative and employment is insecure and informal. The report illustrates these trends by referring to women’s labour migration in the manufacturing export sectors, highlighting that the hiring of (young, flexible, cheap) women workers forms an explicit strategy of governments and big corporations in the export sector. The low wages of women and women migrant workers have been fundamental to economic growth and export-oriented development strategies in many developing countries.


Part of the study focuses specifically on the EU, as female migration to the EU has always been important. Similar to developments in other regions of the world, the restructuring of the European economies has contributed to informalisation, flexibilisation and casualisation of work, growing job insecurity and downward pressure on wages. The authors use the example of women migrants’ work in the domestic and care sector in Europe to illustrate that women migrants contribute to sustaining the contemporary economic system and social reproduction in the region.


The study points out the ambiguity in the migration discourse in Europe, where a combination of economic needs and security interests define fairly restrictive migration policies. While the (temporary), regular movement of highly skilled professionals is encouraged, migrants moving into low-skilled jobs to meet the increasing demand for cheap and flexible migrant labour are facing manifold discrimination. The authors also draw attention to the inconsistencies and lack of cohesion between international and EU commitments to human, women’s and workers’ rights, on the one hand, and its migration policy discourse and practice, on the other. So far, governments and the international community have failed to create an environment that enables women migrants to fully exercise their economic, social, political and cultural rights, protects their physical security.

As the study shows, migration is a complex and often contradictory process. Despite the discriminatory environment, the multiple challenges and adverse conditions women migrants face, a large number of women improve their situation and gain economic independence and empowerment by migrating.  Understanding the complexity of the influence of globalisation and the ongoing economic and social restructuring processes on women’s work, mobility and empowerment is an important aspect of WIDE’s struggle for global economic, social and gender justice. This study offers entry points for an in-depth discussion around these issues. It tries to understand and bridge the gaps between feminist analysis and practice on both economic and migration issues. It concludes by formulating a number of recommendations looking at short-term objectives that strengthen the normative and legal frameworks to safeguard women migrants’ human and labour rights and long-term recommendations seek structural change to the current unsustainable and unjust economic development model.

Download the full report from: 






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