GMPA: Global Migration Policy Associates

Migration Topics

(Research papers and policy briefs below)

Women represent a growing proportion of international migration; nearly 50% of all migrants today are female. In some regions - Latin America, Eurasia, Europe - the proportion is higher, up to 55%. In contrast to past decades, most adult migrant women today are economically active.

Differential opportunities for employment affect men and women differently. Demand for migrant workers in destination countries is defined by labour market segmentation in those markets: opportunities are usually available for low-skilled jobs considered suitable for women. The feminisation of international labour migration, together with the fact that most job opportunities for women migrants are in unregulated sectors (agriculture, domestic work, sex industry) and the existence of gender-disaggregated labour markets contribute to the increase of discriminative employment in countries of destination. As a result, female migrants often suffer 'double discrimination', as women and as migrants. In addition, women have less access to information on migration/job opportunities, recruitment channels, and often have less preparation than men to cope with the working and living conditions in countries of destination.

However, whether in countries of origin or host countries, women migrants contribute to change, innovation and social integration. In migrants' family plans, it is often the women who take the decision to stay on in the host country or return to the country of origin. Women migrants are more independent financially, and in many cases migration is their first opportunity of working and earning a living. Migration changes gender relations and sense of identity and about how social relations between the sexes can influence migrants' social-support networks, economic input and civic participation, in both host country and the country of origin. Immigrant women meet social needs of host countries and are part of the new patterns of mobility resulting from accelerated globalisation. In destination countries women migrants are an important factor in family balance and social integration and contribute to social cohesion.

Nonetheless, the threefold discrimination - of gender, class and nationality - suffered by many foreign women workers has a particular impact on their integration - or lack of it. The situation affecting women immigrants on the labour market, where they typically suffer all of the disadvantages specific both to women and to immigrants, makes them more liable to find themselves unemployed than women of the indigenous population. Low status and disfunctional work/life balance are pivotal problems for women immigrants and are compounded by discrimination-induced difficulties.

GMPA members include recognized expert researchers and policy advisers on migration and gender. GMPA supports elaboration and implementation of gender specific and gender sensitive polices and practices essential to ensure protection, empowerment and equality of treatment for migrant women and girls.


Focal Point Contacts

Nicola Piper

Bandana Pattanaik


Documents and Papers