In March 2019, the international journal Gender & Development will examine the theme of Migrants in a Global Economy. G&D is a unique journal aiming to further gender and social justice through influencing and inspiring international development that challenges inequality. We publish the analysis, insights and experience of feminists working in research, activism, policy and practice. Each of our three issues per year focuses on a cutting-edge theme. For more information on the journal and how to access its content, visit www.genderanddevelopment.org.
Migration is at the top of the development agenda, not least because of the increasing numbers of people who are undertaking the very risky journey to seek refuge and better lives in richer parts of the world. But for refugees and so called economic migrants, staying in their countries of origin is also risky, given the ongoing military conflicts and increasingly hopeless prospects for securing livelihoods and education for themselves and their children.
But in spite of increasing recognition that we live in a global economy, refugees are not so welcome in developed countries, and there is hostility to supposedly “economic migrants”, who are seen as a net drain on wealth and resources in spite of clear evidence that they contribute both to the economies of the countries in which they now live as well as to their countries of origin. Decisions to migrate are invariably a constrained choice in the face of growing inequalities which are accompanied by populist and racist narratives which blame migrants for the social and economic crises which characterise richer countries.
Migration is a gender issue. In previous eras, all migrants were assumed to be male breadwinners, with women and children remaining as dependents in social and nationality policies. While it is now broadly recognised that women are frequently independent or dominant migrants, there needs to be more understanding of gendered roles and relations of different communities and how these might shift or be strained as people make difficult decisions in order to survive and invest in better lives for their children and their families. Some migrant streams – not least care and domestic work – are extremely feminised, leading to much debate about the impact of the global care chain on families and countries or origin. But less attention is paid to the care responsibilities of other women workers who find jobs in manufacturing, service and agricultural sectors. It is also important to recognise that male migrants often operate outside the family and community structures they are used to, and are frequently vulnerable to extreme exploitation and violence.
There is also a danger of generalising about migrants and migration. Firstly, the majority of transborder migrants do not travel from the global South to the North, but move from one developing country to another, where the national or international resources available offer them little more than inadequate shelter and basic food supplies at the best. But there are also large flows of internal migrants within countries such as India who also have to negotiate hostile and complex systems of employment access, housing and social benefits. Nor it should be said that all migrants unskilled; but as Northern countries increasingly police their borders and allow only particular categories of “skilled” migrants to enter and work in their countries, women frequently face additional obstacles since skill tends to be interpreted in a gendered way.
How should development policymakers, practitioners and researchers respond to these issues in ways that uphold social and economic justice, in particular challenging gender inequality and promote women’s rights? If you are an activist, researcher, practitioner, or policymaker with experience to share, please send a paragraph outlining your proposed idea for the issue. Ideas for articles include the following, but please suggest other ideas if they do not appear on the list:
- Migrant women’s self organisation
- Childcare for migrants’ workers
- Development programming working to support migrants to realise their rights
- Training and education for migrant women
- Migrant women, citizenship, and legal rights
- Migrant-local co-operation
- Violence and protection of migrant women
- Migrant remittances and local economic activity
- Transnational families
Interested? Please send a paragraph outlining your proposed idea for an article for this issue, in an email (no attachments please) to [email protected] as soon as possible, and by 10 June 2018. Commissioned articles (of around 6,000 words) will need to be completed for a deadline of 10 October 2018. Guidelines for contributors can be found at www.genderanddevelopment.org