Amelie Belfort on International Women's Day

GMT 05:15 Thursday ,08 March 2012

 Migrant Voice - Amelie Belfort on International Women's Day

Amelie Belfort
One could argue that globalization has allowed women to travel more and to migrate more. Today, more and more executive women work abroad and fly out to attend this important meeting in New York or that amazing conference in Tokyo. In 2010, women constituted half of all international migrants (UNDP). However, if gender has recently been taken into account in migration studies, the true importance of migrant women in the global economy is barely known by the public. While some migrant business women do work for multinational companies, and indeed in every field possible, many are nannies, maids, or caregivers, emigrating from southern countries (often located in South East Asia and Africa) to contribute to Western wealth and to the careers of women in countries like the UK. Today, International Women's Day, women are celebrated worldwide, and most conversations will be about this fantastic moment in history, at the beginning of the last century, when women started working to emancipate themselves. Nevertheless, very little will be said about the millions of women from “Third world countries” who leave their countries and their families to look after our children and elderly. Because women in the West started working without a significant increase of male participation in the household chores and children care, one had to 'import' labour to adjust to this new economic and social phenomena. As women from 'poorer' countries could earn a lot more working abroad than staying at home, they started leaving their families behind, thus enabling our western economies to develop. In a sense, having imported women labour from overseas is part of what has enabled the emancipation and careers of women in the west. Yet many of those migrant women and their contributions are invisible to us. Unfortunately, there is very little material available that analyses to what extent migrant women are contributing to our societies and our everyday life comforts. But we know they are contributing to our economic growth as well as that of their home countries. Indeed, the flow of remittances sent 'back home' account for a significant part of some states’ economies and enable the families at home to sustain a decent way of life. According to an article from the New York Times* women's remittances are also more frequent and reliable than their male counterparts'. The patterns of women's migrations are far from homogeneous and the support for their migration varies greatly. Some countries encourage women to migrate, as the positive outcomes to the home countries are known, others depict them as heartless women preferring money to their own family. But what we need to remember on this day is perhaps just this: that through their labour women migrants contribute to their home and their host countries' economies, making huge sacrifices to do so. Today being women’s day seems the perfect time to give them a voice. To women! *New York Times article: {source} [[a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/world/europe/08iht-ffhelp08.html?_r=2&ref=global-home&pagewanted=all"]]http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/world/europe/08iht-ffhelp08.html?_r=2&ref=global-home&pagewanted=all[[/a]] {/source}
 
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