Migrant Women – Invisible Players in Global Economy

In 2005, 191 million international migrants were registered, and 94.5 million were women. Today they are the majority of immigrants in many places, such as Europe, North America, the South Sea Islands, and the Middle East. It is difficult to say that in 2020 Women emigrants’ number increased due to the Covid-19 Pandemic; however, this phenomenon still needs to be analyzed. The migration issue has a critical role in today’s world, and this is why this topic is included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. When people talk about the woman migration, we should identify the pros and cons of this fact. The positive impact can be that it increases work and educational opportunities and helps their future development; however, numerous challenges create very adverse consequences. No one disagrees that female migrants face specific and unique vulnerabilities, including a greater risk of abuse, exploitation, and trafficking.

Source: IOM (2015).

Many women migrants leave their country because they are striving for better economic opportunities and jobs. In most cases, women lack attention, and they can be perceived as invisible players in the global economy; moreover, they suffer labor and human rights violations. Migration is already divided, and the feminization of migration is widely known as well. This is happening mainly because of the fact that women are on the move quite often, and their number increases every year. Women migrate as they face gender inequalities, discrimination in origin countries; they are the victim of domestic violence, the pressure to marry, or unhappy marriages.

 In 2015, Migrant women number were 48 percent of total international migrants in the world. Another reason for this is that demand for migrant women’s labor is growing in numerous countries. In the care, manufacturing, and domestic sectors, women are more beneficial than men. Moreover, Women in the North and in the South are different. There is work in the North, which women must do, but local women cannot do it, or they simply have no will. However, Women in the South can do this work, and due to high salaries, as they perceived, they are moving from the South, increasing their numbers in those countries. Furthermore, in recent years women became independent migrants, and they are primary economic providers for their families. In today’s world, fewer women migrate for family reunification; however, most of them are moving to find jobs as nurses, maids, nannies, or any type of job.

Photo Credits to UNFPA Viet Nam/Nguyen Minh Duc

In 2016, Women moved 300,6 billion dollars, which was equal to half of the whole world remittances. We can conclude that women move as much money as men, but the difference is visible because of the fact that they earn lower wages than men. Global inequalities in wages are another motivation to move; for example, the daily minimum wage per day is $4,00 approximately in Mexico, while in New York State, the hourly minimum wage is $9,70. Women migration was a solution for families and individuals and many governments in developing countries, as remittances are great potential as they contribute to developing those countries.

The increasing “care industry” is one more reason why the demand for migrant women’s labor is going up, as in the Global North, the traditional family-based model of care has changed, women are inserted into the workforce, and they have to hire migrants who will take care of their children, sick people, elderly or people with disabilities.

Photo Credits to Άγγελος Καλοδούκ

The world experiences structural economic changes, and out-shoring and out-sourcing of production are highly demanded, reducing costs. Manufacturing industries are depended on a cheap and flexible labor force, and managers prefer to have women workers rather than men, as women are perceived as hardworking, compliant, and obedient. Moreover, women do not need family wage, as their incomes are supplemental for a household, they are seen as “natural sewers, they are not organizing unions, and those reasons create the situation where women face terrible working conditions, and they have few legal protections.

Undocumented migrant women suffer pervasive violations; in the United States, victims of trafficking are almost exclusively immigrant women. They have low levels of education, lack familiarity with employment protections, and in most cases, and do not know the language. They work long hours for low wages, and their work is getting and getting worse. They are often isolated in private households and are victims of physical, psychological, and many other abuse types. In Asia, the migration of women is increasing, intending to force them into marriages, particularly in South Korea and Taiwan. “Double discrimination” is the issue for them, as they face discrimination as women and migrants. In many countries, Racism and Xenophobia are a serious concern, and anti-immigrant sentiment is increasing. In media, negative depictions of women migrants appear, while the benefits which are created due to their work are rarely mentioned.

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

As for Georgia, the migration issue is problematic; in 2006-2008, Georgia has a negative number of migrated people. In most cases, people do not have accurate and large-scale information about the challenges, which can be arisen in foreign countries. One huge issue is that women returning to their native country cannot reintegrate with the labor market, and they are staying in those foreign countries. The main reason why Georgian women are migrating is the poverty and economic prosperity. However, women face rather more problems in those countries than the man, as they are in most cases unprotected and vulnerable to those problems. Since wages are relatively low in Georgia than in other foreign countries, it can be assumed that this number will not decrease in the near future. However, this increased number is dangerous for Georgia’s demography.

Source: caucasusbarometer.org

All in all, the woman’s contributions and challenges can be used as a reminder that a woman migrant’s experience is affected by a set of representations, norms, and identification processes. Furthermore, woman migrants need more attention, and their problems should be at first analyzed more, and then solutions must be found, as those labor and human rights violations not only damages them but the governments as well. The cornerstone of those problems is that not everyone perceives it as a global problem, and until they do, it cannot be solved.