Measuring Women’s Empowerment through Migration

Amie Gaye and Shreyasi Jha

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Currently, nearly half of international migrants are women, and evidence suggests that migration flows and their impacts are strongly gendered. However, there is a striking lack of quantitative analysis of international migration’s impact on gender. This paper attempts to examine the challenges in cross-national measurement of women’s empowerment through migration as a contribution to an informed policy debate around gender, migration and empowerment. Since the focus of this paper is on identifying challenges in quantitative measurement of women’s empowerment, we use individual-level data from the Luxemburg Income Study (LIS) to examine migrant women’s socio-economic characteristics. Data on educational attainment is used as proxy for social empowerment, while economic empowerment is measured using individual-level data on migrant’s occupation, job status, property ownership and net wage. Although aggregate data on female migration is essential to improve our understanding of cross-country differences in aspects of women’s migration, this paper emphasizes the need for more longitudinal data to identify barriers to women’s empowerment in destination and origin countries. The paper makes several forward-looking conclusions that summarize the major findings and links them to data and measurement issues that need to be addressed in future research.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Gaye, A. and Jha, S. Measuring Women’s Empowerment through Migration. Diversities. 2011, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 49-66, UNESCO. ISSN 2079-6595.

About the authors:

Amie Gaye is a policy specialist for statistics. Before she joined this office in May 2006, she worked at the Central Statistics Department of The Gambia for 20 years. From 2000 to 2003, she was a policy advocacy manager and gender coordinator for ActionAid The Gambia, supporting cross-border initiatives in Guinea Bissau and Senegal. She also initiated the Participatory Community Video project and the formation of a Pro-Poor Advocacy Group, which aims to promote participatory budgeting and participation of community-based organizations in national planning processes. She has a diploma in statistics from the University of Ghana and obtained a master’s degree in applied population research from University of Exeter, UK.

Shreyasi Jha is a policy specialist with the Statistics Unit. Prior to joining HDRO, she worked as an independent consultant with the Evaluation Office at UNDP in New York. Shreyasi has worked on research and evaluation projects with the World Bank in various sectors including environment, primary education and staff training. Jha has served on the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania and New York University. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Masters from the University of Oxford, and a Bachelor’s in Economics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

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