Precarity, Gender and Work: Vietnamese Migrant Workers in Asia

by Danièle Bélanger and Linh

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Precarity among low-skilled temporary migrant workers in Asia is well documented, particularly concerning migrant women in domestic work in countries of the Gulf region and in East Asia. In this paper, we first examine the intersection of gender and type of work by comparing men and women, but also by comparing women engaged in domestic work and those working in manufacturing. Second, we analyse indicators of precarity through the entire migration process: pre-departure, time abroad, and return. Based on descriptive analyses from survey data collected in 2009 from 499 former Vietnamese migrant workers who worked in Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan between 2000 and 2009, our results indicate differences in (1) moments of precarity, (2) types of precarity, and (3) levels of precarity. This paper unpacks how gender is central to an understanding of precariousness in migration but also how it may intersect with other important variables.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:
Belanger D., and Tran Giang L., Precarity, Gender and Work: Vietnamese Migrant Workers in Asia. Diversities. 2013, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 1-4, UNESCO. ISSN 2079-6595
www.unesco.org/shs/diversities/vol15/issue1/art2

About the authors
Danièle Bélanger is Professor at the Université Laval (Québec, Canada), in the Department of geography. She was professor of sociology at the University of Western Ontario between 1997 and 2012, and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Population, Gender and Development. She examines the intersection of migrants’ structural precariousness and agency in various contexts. Her projects take place in Asia, Latin America and Canada. Between 2005 and 2011, she lead an international project on labour migration and marriage migration within Asia. She currently works on transit migration from Central America to the US as well on temporary migrant workers in Canada.

Linh Tran Giang earned her Master degree in Sociology from University of Western Ontario in Ontario, Canada. She current works for the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS), an independent research institute based in Hanoi, Vietnam, as Head of the Research and Training Department. Her major research interests lie in gender issues, migration and development.

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