UN Women - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

New Report Shows Mixed Benefits from Migration

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Date: 19 October 2011

UN Women in Santo Domingo launched a new report, “Migration, remittances and gender-responsive local development: The case of the Dominican Republic. It presents an in-depth study of migration to the United States from the community of Las Placetas, tracking how gender inequalities affect both women who leave and those who remain behind.

Per capita, Las Placetas receives the second largest percentage of migrant remittances in the Dominican Republic. But the community still struggles with limited development and scarce public services.

The study shows how patriarchy persists despite the large number of women managing household and community affairs after men migrate. Men continue to exercise power from a distance as the principal family providers of income, even as women face excessive workloads at home. The majority of women receiving remittances do not participate in community affairs, as they are frightened of their husbands' reactions if they break away from the traditional domestic sphere.

Remittances often barely cover the basic monthly needs of families, and have had little impact on creating sustainable livelihoods, promoting savings and businesses, or increasing agricultural production.

Women who have themselves migrated to the United States find minimal chances for empowerment, the study finds, even when they make significant contributions to family incomes. Existing patterns of discrimination are often sustained by a second generation growing up in the United States.

Many women migrants still work in traditional occupations as seamstresses, babysitters, cooks, teachers and domestic employees. Although men are also present in “feminized work niches, such as in restaurants and cleaning, they quickly manage to move on to more “manly labour niches.

The report is part of a joint project with the UN Development Programme in six countries — Albania, the Dominican Republic, Lesotho, Morocco, the Philippines and Senegal.

For more information, please contact Elisabeth Robert, Research Associate, Santo Domingo, UN Women, elisabeth.robert[at]unwomen.org.