The Feminization of Migration

It has become relatively common to talk about the changing role of women in migration and in particular the fact that they are increasingly taking a leadership role in migration, with their spouses joining them later. This contrasts with the traditional view of the working man who leaves first, settles down and brings his family once the employment and living situation has stabilized and he has saved enough to pay for their trip. A second traditional pattern is that the family migrates as a unit, with the male spouse being the so-called “main migrant”, that is, the one who arrives with a job or enters the labor market upon arrival. Such family migration patterns are not, of course, the only type of pattern observed; migration is also carried out by single people,

One reason behind the perception that migration patterns are changing, in addition to the fact that women are more present than before in the labor market in general, is the fact that certain jobs available to immigrants have traditionally been filled by women rather than men. mens. This is especially the case with housework, especially those involving care, whether for children or the elderly, or those related to domestic service.

However, for most countries in the Americas, immigration by women from countries in the Americas remains a minority phenomenon, with 45% of immigrants being women, roughly the same percentage as for immigrants from the rest of the world. (Table 2). Only in Chile and Costa Rica do women constitute a majority of immigrants. At the other extreme, in Canada, Peru and Colombia, women represent less than 40% of all immigrants.

Table 2. Participation of women in immigration in the Americas, 2012-2013


Total Family Worked
from the americas from the rest of the world from the americas from the rest of the world from the americas from the rest of the world
(percentage of immigrants who are women)
Canada 30 48 54 56 19 43
Peru 3. 4 39 64 52 26 32
Colombia 37 35 37 25 33 29
Paraguay 41 3. 4 na na na na
bolivia 44 41 49 44 38 41
Barbados 46 3. 4 ns ns 30 22
The Savior 46 40 na na na na
Mexico 46 40 63 57 32 25
Guatemala 47 37 na na na na
Ecuador 49 33 56 44 42 26
Argentina fifty 40 60 52 28 27
Chili 51 37 57 47 49 33
Costa Rica 58 fifty ns ns 77 43
All the countries Four. Five 46 59 56 32 40

As relatives of an established migrant arrive in the destination country to join him or her, there is a natural tendency for the numerical difference between the two genders to cancel out. A better way to visualize the degree to which the traditional pattern is changing is to look at the relative presence of men and women in family and labor migration, respectively. But here too one observes the traditional pattern of the majority presence of women among family migrants (59%) and a lower presence among labor migrants (32%), see Figure 5. The traditional pattern is more accentuated among immigrants from the Americas than among immigrants from the rest of the world.

Figure 5.  Women among labor migrants in the Americas, 2012-2013


Indeed, there are only two exceptions to this in the statistics that appear in Table 2, the first is family migration in Colombia, in which women represent a clear minority, and the second is labor migration in Costa Rica, in which women Women represent more than three quarters of all labor migrants. Furthermore, family migration in Bolivia and labor migration in Chile tend to be almost equally divided between the two genders. The lowest percentage of female labor migrants is found in Canada, where the percentage of women among temporary foreign workers, including agricultural workers in particular, is just 9%.

Therefore, if the traditional pattern of migration in the countries of the Americas is indeed changing, it remains, with some exceptions, far from a situation in which the genders play the same role.

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