Gender and Migration in a Global Perspective: Difficult Dialogues

Dominating recent domestic policy discussions, migration has proven to be one of the most difficult and controversial political topics of our time. With last March’s memorable Scholar & Feminist Conference, the Barnard Center for Research on Women endeavored to create a dialogue around immigration that takes into account the oft-overlooked issues of gender and sexuality. This semester, BCRW joins the Barnard Forum on Migration and the Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia in presenting a workshop that further explores the fundamental connections between gender and global migration. Why, we ask, do sex ratios in population movements vary so widely across time and place? Why are 70 percent of all Filipino migrants today women while, among Mexicans, the same percentage of migrants are men? And why are over four-fifths of Dominican migrants to Spain women, while emigration to Kazakhstan is, according to a recent New York Times article, “emptying whole swaths of Central Asia of young men”? What factors account for these drastic differences: should we look to labor markets, education, demographic and family structures, gender ideologies, government regulations and legal status, or is it some intrinsic aspect of the migratory flow itself? Do men and women migrate for different reasons? Are there significant gender differences in the migrants’ age of departure, in their socio-economic integration into host societies, in their sending and receiving remittances, in their rates of return? To what degree does migration undermine or strengthen gender systems in both countries of origins and in diaspora? By bringing together scholars with a global and comparative perspective, this workshop aspires to uncover recurrent and recognizable patterns that will improve our understanding of the gendered nature of migration.

“Gender and Migration in a Global Perspective” is supported by Barnard’s “Difficult Dialogues” project and made possible by the generous support of The Ford Foundation and The Carnegie Corporation.