Women migrants in hard times
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Women migrants in hard times. Sonia McKay. Migration trends. Increasing feminisation of migration – Belgium 54%, Italy 55%; UK 50% (UWT) Feminisation of poverty 70% of world’s poor are women or children Higher levels of female participation in the labour market

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Migration trends
Migration trends

  • Increasing feminisation of migration – Belgium 54%, Italy 55%; UK 50% (UWT)

  • Feminisation of poverty 70% of world’s poor are women or children

  • Higher levels of female participation in the labour market

  • Female labour as an export commodity

  • Old stereotypes unchallenged


Why do women migrate and what are the consequences
Why do women migrate and what are the consequences?

  • Family reunion

  • Economic reasons

  • To escape oppression

  • To provide for their families

  • Some opportunities

  • Many constraints


What reasons do women give for migrating
What reasons do women give for migrating?

  • Women more likely to state that they choose migration –

    • 1. For the good of their children;

    • 2. For the good of the whole family

  • Men more likely to state that they choose migration –

    • 1. For political, economic or emotional reasons

  • In the UWT project almost no men declared they were working below qualifications to benefit their children, while a majority of women did so.


Which women migrate
Which women migrate

  • Out of 101 interviews:

    • 43 were married;

    • 5 lived in partnerships;

    • 15 were divorced;

    • 6 were widows

    • 2 in ‘sham’ marriages

    • More likely to be older than male migrants

    • ‘My situation is more or less characteristic for some women from my own country. First we get married, then some things happen, we get divorced, we cannot go back to our country, because we lose face, and then we stay on here.’ (Female migrant in Denmark)



Working at below qualifications
Working at/below qualifications

  • Proportion females and males working below qualifications


What jobs do women migrants do
What jobs do women migrants do?

  • Cleaners – gendered work

  • Housekeepers – gendered work

  • Carers – gendered work

  • Hospitality – gendered work

  • Agriculture – existing skills

  • Why is gender segregation replicated?

    • ‘Those sectors that are most open to female labour and where there is the greatest demand for their services are worse regulated and most likely to fall within the shadow economy’ (Female migrants – the new nomads in Old Europe, UWT thematic report)



Women the labour market and migration
Women, the labour market and migration

  • Significant section of flexible labour – growth in temporary and insecure employment;

  • Growth in the informal economy

  • Growth in sub-contracting

  • In sectors less likely to be union-organised

  • Domestic work – long hours, low wages, stress

  • Permit system restricts entry to jobs.


Women migration and hard times
Women, migration and hard times

  • Opportunities to challenge sex segregation narrowed

  • Immigration law - forces into informal work

  • Inability to leave employer – domestic work

  • Changing work limits previous opportunities eg. factory work

  • I thought about it hundreds of times. If I was a man I could easily work on a construction site and earn normally, like other people do. But my documents and my curriculum says “I am a woman”’

  • (Domestic worker in Austria)