As is now acknowledged by many, the migration of women is far from being a new phenomenon. As early as the 1960s’, women have constituted approximately 47% of migrants. However, those women were often invisible in the eyes of academics and policy-makers, first because data was not disaggregated by sex and second because most of those migrant women were not considered as workers but as dependants. Therefore, they were not considered in migration policies from both origin and destination countries.

Despite what is commonly assumed, the concept of feminization of migration does not imply a dramatic change in numbers but rather a more qualitative change. This notion refers to the change in the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of women’s migration: Women now tend to migrate increasingly as ‘primary migrants’, which is to say as autonomous actors and not only as dependant family members (wife, daughter or partner) of a male migrant. This accounts for a variety of socio-economic factors such as education levels, access to information and resources, cultural acceptance of women’s movement but also an increased decision-making power among women.


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