Women in Motion’ in a World of Nation-States, Market Forces, and Gender Power Relations

Des Gasper, Thanh-Dam Truong (2013):  Women in Motion’ in a World of Nation-States, Market Forces, and Gender Power Relations, in: Migration, Gender and Social JusticeHexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace Volume 9, 2014, pp 367-386.

Full article available here.

This chapter provides concluding reflections from a set of nineteen case studies of transnational and intranational migration and mobility. It contrasts the ‘sedentary bias’ present in policy regimes and associated thought centred on nation-states, where movement is seen as exceptional, including normatively exceptional, with the centrality of movement in the processes of socio-economic change and evolution, particularly those promoted under capitalist systems of economic organization. While market capitalist and nation-state principles of organization differ, they combine in hybrid systems, such as those currently being elaborated in policy regimes for temporary migrant workers, to exploit migrant labour. Many of these arrangements mirror the indentured labour regimes of earlier eras. The chapter presents by contrast a perspective based on principles of human rights and human security that uses a global framework both for understanding and for evaluation and then adds an explicit gender-aware enrichment of that perspective, in order to do justice to the special vulnerabilities and exploitation of women’s migrant labour. A human security perspective, in particular, helps to base concern for human rights in an awareness of bodily and emotional needs, of global interconnections, and of the intersecting circumstances in people’s everyday lives; but it requires, and lends itself to, gender-enrichment through partnership with insights from feminist theory, as illustrated in the book’s various case studies. The systems of the nation-state, market capitalism, and gender power that are discussed in this chapter, that structure the experiences of migrant women workers, are very deeply established. The chapter suggests directions for possible re-cognition, to reduce and counter the invisibility and misframing of migration, and of women and their work; it also suggests priority areas for research and networking following the format employed for the book: linking researchers, policy practitioners and migrant advocates, South-South-North.

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