Mis/representations of women migrant workers in the media: A critical analysis

Authors/editor(s): Jenna Hennebry, Keegan Williams, David Celis-Parra, and Rachelle Daley

This media study is part of UN Women’s EU-funded project, “Promoting and protecting women migrant workers’ labour and human rights: Engaging with international, national human rights mechanisms to enhance accountability”. It focuses on representations of women migrant workers in sending and receiving countries, with an emphasis on women migrant workers from the three case studies of the project: Mexico, Moldova and the Philippines.

Articles from the five most prominent newspapers in Canada, Italy, Mexico, and the Philippines are analysed using a gender perspective. A total of 138 articles were collected with women migrant workers as their main subject.

Three dominant representations were identified through which the articles frame women migrant workers: victims (abuse, labour exploitation, recruitment, trafficking, domestic State policy, and State policy in countries of origin), heroes (agents of development, mother, spouse, daughter, other family, caregiver, primary income earner, secondary income earner, and activist), and threats (stealing jobs, as a drain on the economy, a threat to the immigration system, a threat to public security, a threat to public health, a threat due to overt sexuality, a threat due to foreign origin, and a threat due to race).

The implications of these representations are explored and a woman migrant worker–centred approach is recommended in which women’s agency is recognized is promoted.

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Bibliographic information

Geographic coverage: Asia and the Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; OECD DAC Donors and Other Countries; Canada; Italy; Mexico; Philippines

Subject area(s): Communications and media; Gender stereotypes; Economic empowerment; Employment; Migrant workers; Migration

Resource type: Assessments

UN Women office involved in publication: UN Women Headquarters

Publication year: 2017

Number of pages: 25

Publishing entities: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)