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[PANEL] 1001 THE FEMINISATION OF MIGRATION: PERSPECTIVES AND EXPERIENCES OF GENDERED MIGRATIONS WITHIN AND OUTSIDE OF ETHIOPIA
MERON Zeleke, Senior Postdoctoral Fellow and Assistant Professor, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
Leila QASHU, Banting Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS), Concordia University, Canada
GUGSA Gebreselasie; Nikolay STEBLIN-KAMENSKY; KIYA Gezahegne; TIGIST Getahun Asfaw;
SEHIN Teferra; Joanna BUSZA
This panel will explore gender in the context regional, national and international migration in and out of contemporary Ethiopia. More specifically, it will address different discourses related to the feminisation of migration, ranging from looking at Ethiopian women migrating within (locally, regionally and nationally) and outside the country, to the latest ongoing deportation of thousands of Ethiopian labour migrants from the Middle East, and to the reintegration process of the female migrants. Though women worldwide have always been migrating for employment, current data and research on the ground is showing that the numbers are increasing, with women estimated in 2015 at 48% of all international migrants worldwide, and Ethiopian women as one of the most representative groups (Kuschminder and Siegel 2014, Maymon 2017, UN International Migration Report 2015). It is also important to discuss regional and national migrations, which are not documented in these international statistics but often entail separation and certain hardships, and are undertaken with the hopes of educational or economic gains. In order to complement discussions of terms, international statistics and data with personal stories and lived experiences, this panel will also focus on the women’s lived experiences prior to their departure, in transit, at their work destination, and their journeys home. By including this focus on localized lived experiences, this panel offers space for interdisciplinary perspectives on: 1) historical and contemporary data on the feminisation of (Ethiopian) migration; and 2) women’s lived experiences in the different parts of their journeys: discussions at home about leaving and about women who have left, women’s travels ranging from the local to the international, why women are increasingly migrating from their home, farm or region, how they experience the journeys, and time away from home and the return home.
FACTORS AFFECTING PROSPECTS OF MOBILITY OF FEMALE TRANSIT MIGRATION THE CASE OF BATI TO DJIBOUTI. [Abstract ID: 1001-02]
The phenomenon of female transit migration is highly increasing in developing countries like Ethiopia. The main driving force for female transit migration is to earn more money and ambition to live a better life. The researcher has explained the female transit migration using qualitative phenomenological method which aims to describe the pushing factors to experiences transit migration. Besides, the study was conducted using interview, focus group discussion and field observation from Bati along Afar Region to Djibouti border. The study result is finalized by using thematic analysis and it is an Academic Research. The factors of female transit migration are different depending on the decision of outgoing mobility. The researcher found out that the principal factors for female transit migration are an associative relation they have with peers or friends, neighbors, forced marriage, divorce, having a spouse abroad, personal motive, failure in education, death of parents, separation of parents wishing to join family members who have already migrated, being widowed and the role of brokers from Bati Town onward to Djibouti. Amhara and Tigray Region are suffering for female transit migration due to poverty and lack of females' employment opportunities. Hence, migration transcends the decision of female transit migrants, families, brokers, neighbors, friends and bears influence from their resident to Bati onwards to Djibouti.
FEMALE LABOUR MIGRATION IN PATRIARCHAL HOUSEHOLDS OF RURAL WOLLO [Abstract ID: 1001-09]
In the last decade, labour migration to the Persian Gulf has become an essential life strategy among the people of Wollo. Although the number of young men and women travelling to the Gulf is almost equal, their experiences are very different. Women are believed to be more successful, their journeys are usually arranged by their families and are more costly. At the same time, men tend to leave their homes secretly, asking families for support only when reaching the Gulf. To some extent, this pattern is shaped by the labour market of the Gulf, which offers contract jobs almost only to female workers. However, the pattern resonates with social expectations rooted in society: girls are expected to be a helpful resource for their families while boys are expected to establish their own households. The presentation will focus on several cases of migration from a community in Habru Woreda, showing an intricate interplay of interests inside the extended family of a female-migrant, which makes her the last person to benefit from migration.
FEMINIZATION OF MIGRATION: VULNERABILITY OR/AND AGENCY AGAINST STEREOTYPE [Abstract ID: 1001-08]
With the recent feminization of migration in the 21st century, and thus the increase in women’s mobility, female migrants' agency, as opposed to male migrants, has been left open for different juxtaposition. With the gendered experience of migration, in terms of job markets, expectations, and economic gain, gendered stereotypes play their part in understanding the complexity of the process of transnational movement. Many have reported women to be among the vulnerable and the weak in this cross-border human mobility while the increasing number of male migrants are stocked with anti-immigrant sentiments and mobilization to reinforce a strict border control, framing them as a threat. This has, for a long time, dominated the discourse in the media and among government bodies. Nonetheless, in the attempt to escape difficult conditions or personal circumstances, the “sliding definitional scale” in explaining the transnational experience of migrant women is missing. With the network established and the path taken, the women consider their flight across the border to be comparatively safe, and ‘legal’. Thus, moving away from the vulnerability discourse, though the reason for the flight might be many, for Ethiopian female migrants crossing the border is an act of gaining their voice and agency and a flight from stereotypical oppression back home. The flux of female migrants to the Middle East and the Sudan, following the rise of the service sector, mainly as domestic workers (child care and elderly care givers), have changed the gendered job market in Ethiopia. In such a journey, the mobile women then became the breadwinner in their household, economically empowered. In the meantime, upon their return, the social category aligned to such migrants diminishes to where they no longer have the same agency in their household and the community at large, going back to a vulnerable position once again. Hence, in this case, social categories become part of the sliding definitional scale for these female migrants from Ethiopia, shifting their position from empowered to vulnerable.
LIVING CONDITION OF FEMALE TRANSIT MIGRANTS IN ETHIOPIA BASED IN THE CITY OF DIRE DAWA. [Abstract ID: 1001-01]
Today many Ethiopian women leave their country in search for better conditions of life through jobs. This study explores the female migrant living conditions and the main challenges facing them while they are in the transit city of Dire Dawa. A number of female migrants experience serious human rights abuses including physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Because of the length of the journey could take months, even years, and most use illegal routes and illegal brokers, they go through various forms of human rights violations including harassment, threats to themselves and families, trafficking in forced labor, economic and sexual exploitation, and other forms of abuse in the transit city. While the city of Dire Dawa is a suitable place for migrants to go to their intended destination, they stayed for months and years. The hardship and abuse begins mostly while they are waiting their date to leave. Transit migrants, especially those in an irregular situation, lack legal protection from the transit city. Thus the living condition of transit female migrants is a serious issue that needs further policy assessment in order to guarantee the social and economic rights during their stays in the transit city.
‘NOT MY PARENTS’ HOUSE’: THE DISCIPLINING OF ETHIOPIAN WOMEN MIGRANT DOMESTIC WORKERS IN THE GULF STATES [Abstract ID: 1001-06]
Based on the principles of discipline as developed by Michel Foucault, the researchers argue that Ethiopian migrant domestic workers in the Middle Eastern Gulf countries find that they have safer migration experiences if they submit to multiple disciplinings of their bodies and characters to fit the normative ideals of the compliant, obedient and unthreatening domestic worker. The evidence for this argument comes from field research conducted in 2015 by the presenters in the 'hotspot' area of feminized migration of North Wello. The research aimed to inform a new Safe Migration project for the Freedom Fund. The research indicated that in the face of extreme levels of insecurity and the real threats of physical, sexual or psychological harm by female and male employers, Ethiopian women migrants take proactive 'disciplinary' measures in terms of mode of dress and limited interaction with men. The researchers understood such measures to be indications of Foucauldian principles of self-discipline by the 'docile bodies' of migrant workers. (1994) Although exact figures are unknown, large numbers of Ethiopian women find themselves in such a position of vulnerability, particularly as they tend to travel to countries in the Gulf States and Middle East where legal frameworks for labour migrants remain weak (ILO, 2011).