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‘Gender’ and ‘the capacity for self-fulfillment among women’, both in origin and destination societies, were at the heart of the CARIM experts’ debate, during the Thematic Session on “Gender and Migration”.
‘Gender’ refers to socially-constructed characteristics of women and men: women as well as men are subjected to the gendered causes and consequences of migration, whether or not they are migrants. Not only women but also men are susceptible to a gender approach: e.g. male migrants change their status, even those with families in the origin country often becoming ‘single’ in destination countries creating specific challenges; male and female refugees are not always exposed to the same kinds of threats, etc.
The ‘capability of self fulfillment of women’ has been tackled from three complementary perspectives: in terms of education as a key factor in the demographic-economic development of societies; in terms of the legal protection of gender in local, international and foreign law; and also as socio-political ‘proof’ of better conditions in both origin and host societies.
Where gender issues are concerned, in whatever field, several challenges are always implied. The word “challenge” was, in fact, the red thread unifying Nassour Ouaidou’s and Aïcha Berlarbi’s keynote speeches, together with Giancarlo Blangiardo’s, Roberta Aluffi’s and Ruba Salih’s presentations - respectively from an economic, legal and socio-political perspective.
“Challenge” has, here, a double meaning: first it is a challenge to write on “Gender and Migration” - many papers were put together from scratch as the existing literature and data on migration in South and Eastern Mediterranean and Sub-Saharan countries is scarce - second, women who migrate, even if they are not de facto vulnerable, for the very fact that they migrate become vulnerable.
The debate among the CARIM experts threw up an important observation, in regard to gender issues in the countries belonging to the CARIM network: while in Sub-Saharan countries women take an active part in society, Middle Eastern and North African countries experience, by contrast, low female participation in the public sphere.
Any investigation of women’s status and conditions during and after migration, creates many more unanswered questions. Research has to take different factors into account, both to better mirror the current situation, and to foresee, if possible, future needs: education; allocation of resources – in terms economic and human capital; not to mention globalization with its qualitative and quantitative implications.
Education: keynote speakers and the CARIM experts agreed on the importance of education and its crucial role, e.g. in the brain-drain phenomenon and the resulting impoverishment of origin societies; brain-waste; over-education coupled with under-occupation; self-determination and awareness of rights and duties (e.g. self-unionised women in destination countries).
Allocation of resources: human and economic capital are inter-linked. “How are women’s remittances used?” Answering this question enables us to determine whether women’s status, both in origin and destination countries, has been enhanced or not. More specifically are remittances aimed at consumer culture, or at productive culture, or are they, rather, used to ameliorate women’s education?
Despite the different levels of development among the 15 countries belonging to the CARIM network, there was general agreement that feminization of migration is a multi-faceted phenomenon: while emigration of women to OECD countries is mainly dependent (i.e. family reunification) - but autonomous movements are slightly increasing overtime -; in the Middle East, especially, immigration is increasingly an independent phenomenon, the result of refugee movements and the demand for domestic workers.
Furthermore, the feminization of the phenomenon poses common challenges, in demographic and economic terms, in legal and in socio-political ones as well. Globalisation has affected and affects the feminization of migration, in all societies: “What happens to the women who are left behind?”; “Do they increase their decision-making power - economic or otherwise - in households?”; “Do women in destination societies improve their status?” Addressing these questions means taking the global dimension of the phenomenon into consideration.
Each stakeholder has to play their role: first of all international organizations should champion the gender mainstream and should encourage debate on the issue. In this regard, IOM has put it well: “silence speaks volume”.
The results of the research will be delivered and discussed with policy-makers in Amman and Bamako.
CARIM has launched the new research topic: "Gender and Migration". Click here for more details and information on related events.
CARIM is currently publishing papers following research into Highly-Skilled Migration into, through and from the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean and Sub-Saharan Africa. Click on the link to view the papers in the series.
CARIM Migration Profiles provide an overview of demographic, economic, legal and sociopolitical aspects shaping migration in the country.
Click here for more information
CARIM has published 36 papers as a result of research into Irregular Migration in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries.
Click on the link to view the papers in the series.
CARIM has published 38 papers as a result of research into Circular migration in the Euro-Mediterranean area. Click on the link to view the papers in the series.
CARIM has just published 10 papers on Iraqi Refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. Click on the link to view the papers.