Theme 5. Migration, Gender and Body.
In recent decades the implementation of neoliberal policies in most of the world have had a profound economic and social impact for migrant women. These policies have had negative effects on a vast part of the regions, and women, as well as the rest of the population, have suffered the consequences of unemployment, impoverishment, inequality, violence and insecurity, among other triggered factors.
Under this context, the vast majority of women have sought out new forms of survival, using resources within the family structure and out of it. Ranging from adapting to the labor market, either formally and / or informally, forced by the unemployment of men, to working a large number of hours in low-paid jobs lacking labor rights, having to leave their families and their places of origin to migrate to labor markets far from their home, which that specific workforce demands.
By 2017 women have accounted for 48.8% of total international migration, a proportion that has barely increased in relation to previous decades (in 1980 they represented 48.1%, in 1990 49.2%, 49.3% in the year 2000 and, in 2010 the 48.4%). However, the percentages of women at the regional level are heterogeneous, in the case of migration to Europe they represent 52%, in North America 51.5%, in Asia 42.4% and Latin America 50.4%.
To this scale of diversity add the numerous types of mobility within each of the migration systems; which depend on their labor insertion, the objectives pursued and the particular to general conditions of their countries of origin, destination, transit and return. Therefore, a complex and diverse reality is faced, to which the migratory experiences of women become different according to their class, nationality, ethnicity, age, schooling, migratory status, among other elements.
Both women and men participate in migration. However, there are a great number of elements that may differentiate the migratory experience according to gender.
Among these we can highlight: 1) Levels of poverty and its differential impact in male and female households. As much as men, the economic factor is one of the determinants of women migration, however, for women the structural gender violence and femicide violence add on as important reasons. 2) Human rights violations against migrants in transit and at destination are differentiated. For example, women, girls and teenagers are more likely to suffer various types of sexual violence in migratory transit. 3) Traditional gender relations are reconfigured in a specific way when women migrate and in another way when man migrates. 4) Social pressure in their place of origin as well as in the destination are also differentiated. 5) The introduction of migrants in labor markets is limited to certain activities that are related to traditional gender roles. 6) The insertion of migrants into labor market is reduced to activities related to traditional gender roles, 7) Working conditions and salary are unequal according to their sex; to mention a few.
In the places of destination there are labor segments such as domestic work, care services and prostitution, which in tune with neoliberal capitalism, require migrant women to meet the demand that exists there. In this sense, migration has led to the creation of new dependencies and forms of slavery instead of encouraging gender equality in the world. Although the diversity of situations is very broad and involves complex interactions, generally we find that the range of scenarios goes from the migratory dream of the desired life and opportunities, especially for the most “qualified”, to the heartrending labor slavery or sexual activity for the most disadvantaged. In addition, the criminalization of undocumented migration and the increase of xenophobic and racist samples of recent years, aggravates the production of situations that vulnerate women, both in transit or at destination, making human rights obsolete.
Considering all the fore mentioned, the theme “gender and body migration” from a feminist perspective, intends to answer the following questions: -To what extent does the migration of women contribute to challenging traditional gender roles by promoting their “empowerment”? or how, on the contrary, if migration collaborates to perpetuate patriarchal social norms inherited in function of the traditional construction of “the feminine” -Are migrant women punished for having challenged the demand to remain in their homes and countries of origin? On the other hand, the diverse forms of stigma, discrimination and violence against people with diverse sexual orientations and identities, has become one of the main causes of migration. There are 72 countries in the world that criminalize sexual relations between people of the same sex, and even being either gay or lesbian is death penalty in 8 of them. In many other places, even though LGBTI people are not persecuted by the law, they are object to social rejection, discrimination, harassment and other types of violence that can lead them to death. People fleeing from their countries of origin for this reason must have access to specific protection policies on this issue as they may qualify to receive international protection as refugees or be considered as beneficiaries of other forms of complementary protection in countries of asylum.