The Politics of Women and Migration in the Global South

Author:   David Tittensor and Fethi Mansouri
Publisher:   Springer
Reviewer:   Andrew Mendy

David Tittensor and Fethi Mansouri (2017); The Politics of Women and Migration in the Global South, eBook ISBN 978-1-137-58799-2. (2017). 134 pages.

The Politics of Women and Migration in the Global South is a scholarly study of two profound scholars David Tittensor and Fethi Mansouri on feminization of migration and its complex challenges from within context of the global south. The book is published in 2017 and sheds light on the governance, rights, and injustices that are meted out to a vulnerable and ever-expanding group of migrants worldwide: women. While remittances and brain drain continue to dominate much of the contemporary research, very little has been written about challenges with governance and the rights of female workers. In the case of women who are extremely vulnerable and have experienced sexual assault, this is especially true. The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrants and Members of their Families was only ratified by 42 nations as of 2009, making such an omission urgent. The authors thus show that due to poorly established welfare systems, migrants moving within the Global South are more likely to experience social inequalities. The book lengths 134 pages and is divided into seven interconnected chapters, each of which addresses a different book topic with various book chapter editors. Both the breadth and the depth of the investigation into this complicated issue are highlighted in the chapters. The book analyses and covers a variety of topics, including forced migration, domestic work, marriage migration, policy, international caregiving, remittances, and issues related to victimization and agency. The chapters collectively provide a critical lens to some regional case studies, highlighting the intersections between the various lines of inquiry and the difficulties faced by female migrants in terms of local stigmatization in their home countries and basic rights and working conditions in their host societies.

In the first chapter, Introducing and Contextualising Feminised Migration, written by Tittensor and Mansouri, explore the concept of feminised migration from a variety of interconnected angles. The chapters attempt to introduce the nature of the literature on female migration, the goals of the collection, and provide a brief summary of the book. The main historical factors that have influenced female migration from both sending countries and receiving communities are examined in this chapter.

In the second chapter, The Feminisation of Migration? A Critical Overview brings to light the crucial role played by local, national, regional, and transnational socio-economic forces in creating the demand for a women-centric type of human mobility, which is essential to understanding the rising prominence of female migration. In addition, the chapter examines how discourses of exploitation and victimization frequently cast doubt on the notion of agency for female migrants in the contexts of Indonesia and Mexico and the discussion of changing patterns in feminised migration within Asia.

In chapter three, Gender and Migration Policies in Asia written by Nana Oishi emphasizes the importance of emigration policies in determining the scope and pattern of women's migration movements. The main contention is that welfare states are weakening as populations are aging quickly in many developed and wealthy cultures, leading to what is now known as the "care gap," which is predicted to continue to grow globally.

Chapter four ‘Indonesian Maids in the Arab World: Hopes, Dreams, and Disillusionment’. Edited by Ismet Fanany and Rebecca Fanany highlights and explores the experiences of Indonesian women employed in the Arab Gulf region. The chapter emphasizes the mistreatment and exploitation of Indonesian women employees, which took the form of violent acts, poor working conditions, and sexual abuse.

Chapter five, Masculinization or Feminisation? Lebanese Emigration and the Dynamics of Arranged Cousin Marriages in Australia by Nelia Hyndman-Rizk's examines the migration of Lebanese women to Australia, focusing on planned cousin weddings, which increasingly account for a sizable number of the women arriving from Lebanon as brides. The chapter queries the effects of female migration from Lebanon to Australia on family dynamics as well as if this feminisation of migration generally is a progressive or regressive kind of mobility. Additionally, the author of this chapter demonstrates how the complicated history of migration in Lebanon, along with the increasingly tight immigration laws being implemented elsewhere, including in Australia, has led to both the feminisation of home country emigration flows and the masculinization of diaspora migrant locations. Thus, it is demonstrated how the migration of women as brides between the homeland and diaspora reflects intricate national, regional, and global processes of earlier migration waves. As a result, what on the surface appears to be a neo-feminised flow between specific sites in Lebanon and migration-receiving countries like Australia is actually the result of these complex national, regional, and global processes.

Chapter Six Women at Risk and Their Right to Asylum in Australia written by Sara E. Davies focuses on women (and children) who seek to cross borders on treacherous journeys in pursuit of asylum, and the chapter explores the causes of such risky feminised migrations that put women and their children at risk. Then, concentrating specifically on the situations of Myanmar and Syria, Davies examines the conditions for women who have been unable to leave the camps where they are currently housed. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine needs to be applied in the case of the Australian government's approach to displaced women and their children in crisis zones, most notably Syria and Myanmar, the author of this chapter outlines the vulnerable conditions that women asylum seekers find themselves in. In doing so, Davies reminds that each of the three essential requirements for R2P has already been satisfied in these circumstances. Namely, the state's responsibility to protect its own citizens, the responsibility of the international community to assist in times of humanitarian crisis, and the responsibility of the international community to take action when a state fails to protect its citizens, as is the case, for instance, with the current situation in Syria. The author claims that Australia needs to strengthen its commitment to human rights protection to include vulnerable women and their children in conflict zones where the risk of violence, exploitation, abuse and discrimination is likely to be greater.

Finally, in chapter seven, Who Cares? The Unintended Consequences of Policy for Migrant Families written by Loretta Baldassar looks at the idea of care and caregiving as major factors influencing human mobility in general. The chapter makes the case that women have been the primary actors in a care-driven human mobility, which has led to a dramatic feminisation of migration that includes domestic workers, middle-class migrants, and the phenomena of flying grandmothers. The author argues that a focus on the portability of care provides a new perspective on the more important political, economic, and legal migration agendas, expanding current understanding of migrant trans-local manifestations of agency and vulnerability both within the countries of origin (through remittances as a form of socio-economic care) and as the core of the migratory journey (care provision to receiving societies).


The goal of this volume, in sum, has been to buck the trend of feminized migration being centered on a single component and offer a much-needed, more thorough overview of the variety of push and pull factors that cause women to emigrate. Thus, a wide range of topics are covered in the chapters, including forced migration, the rights of refugees, the hardship of domestic workers in Gulf nations, marriage migration from Lebanon, the "care gap" in Asia, and the portability of care more generally as it relates to public policy. One criticism of this book is that it was unable to make a distinction based on historically pervasive cultural standards, the factors driving female migration, and the severity of these women's suffering as it relates to their regional experiences and histories. The book mainly focused on the predicament of women and children in both the host nations and their home countries. Additionally, it emphasizes the crucial role of state actors, who are the primary duty-bearers, and the international community in protecting women, children, and refugees in conflict zones. Despite its shortcomings, the book adds value and contributes to the field by substantially compiling, explaining, and methodizing scholarly female migration and migration related issues. Not only would it serve as an important foundation for future research but will also be of practical use both to academicians and practitioners working in the field, and policymakers aiming to further explore and transform this crucial phenomenon called migration.

Andrew Mendy is a graduate of Political Science from the University of the Gambia. His areas of research and academic interest are in Politics, Human Rights, and democratic governance. While hoping to pursue his postgraduate studies, Andrew is currently working at GloCal Consulting Gambia and the same time doing a research internship at Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism a think tank research firm in India.

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