Women in Comparative Societies
Women on the Move in a Globalizing World
Based on Introduction to Global Woman, by Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russel Hochschild and “Migration Trends: Maps and Chart” by Robert Espinoza and other ideas.
Fact: Women are on the move in the globalizing world
Types of mobility to consider
Socio-economic (class): upward, downward, lateral
Human smuggling, trafficking
Proposition: the upward mobility of 1st World women depends on the geographic mobility of 3rd World women
Millions of women migrate from poor countries to wealthier
countries to obtain work as domestic workers, nannies, or sex workers
Women in developed countries use the supplementary childcare provided
By migrant workers to obtain more affluent careers
Is this situation just?
Who benefits? Who pays and how?
What problems are created or exacerbated by women’s migration?
1. Impact on the children, families, societies they leave behind
2. Economic justice
the migrants are poorly paid
generally underpaid relative to native workers
downward pressure on wages in receiving societies
3. Vulnerablity to criminal predators: traffickers, pimps, abusive employers/husbands
have little recourse for being held as slaves, prisoners
for unfair or no pay, horrible living/working conditions, etc.
Why are these issues given little scholarly or media attention?
1. Intersection of gender-race-class
Triply disadvantaged, discriminated against
“women’s work” – not really work; “natural”
“sex work” – esp. for minority women who are sexualized – seen as not really work because of
“natural” inclination to sex, pleasing men
“racial discounting” – migrants are often from groups that are seen as inferior
class bias – the attitude that some are put on this earth to serve, others to lead
These jobs are primarily indoors and hidden
Stigma in western cultures against dependency on migrant labor
Hard to measure/know. Lack data on illegal/informal patterns
Historical Perspective on Migration to Perform “Women’s Work”
The first world way of life is made possible by the transfer of
Classic “wifely duties” to domestic servants
This is not the first historical precedent of shifting child-rearing
Duties to transplanted women
1. In the ancient Middle East, women of defeated populations were made into slaves
2. In the American slave trade of the 19th Century, one-third of slaves brought from Africa were women who became “domestic servants,” i.e., cleaning women, cooks, nursemaids, concubines, sexual slaves to their masters and mothers of their children
3. In the nineteenth century, Irish women migrated to English towns to serve wealthy households
What, then, is distinctive about today’s waves of migration?
Scale, magnitude, rapidity, “global-ness”
Why do women migrate today?
Many poor governments support the migration of women
Economic development impact: Women are estimated to send half of what they earn back home
Institutions like the World Bank and IMF require developing countries to restructure fiscal policies
These reforms often reduce public goods such as welfare and education (forcing women to seek a larger income)
Desire for upward mobility in home countries
There is relatively more wealth to be found in developed countries (even non-western countries)
In Hong Kong the wages for a Filipina domestic are about 15 times the wages of a school teacher in the Philippines
An alternative to divorce
Family’s best option economically, even for professional women (downward mobility across space)
To escape abuse
Sold, forced by family
Source: Stalker’s Guide to International Migration (click on map to be taken to interactive map on Stalker’s site)
Think about the flows with women in mind
Why do women migrate?
What kind of work do they do in the receiving countries?
See p. 280 in Global Woman for trends related to women not revealed by other maps in the book
Latin America to Europe
Domestic Workers: DR and Peru to Spain
Sex Workers: Guatemala to Spain; Colombia and Brasil to W Europe
Domestic Workers: Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand to HK, Singapore, Malaysia
Sex Workers: Phil, Cambodia, Laos, China, Burma to Japan, Taiwan, HK, Malaysia, Thailand
Vietnam and Thailand to Cambodia
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India to Pakistan
Bangladesh, Nepal to India
Domestic Workers: from PL, AL, BG to Greece
Sex Workers: AL to Greece; Ro to Turkey; Rus and Ukr to W Europe
Philippines to US, Canada
Caribbean to US
Sri Lanka to Canada