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Consequences of male international migration for women’s status and roles in Senegal

Nathalie Mondain, Université d'Ottawa
Sara Randall, University College London
Alioune Diagne, INDEPTH Network

The need to study the consequences of migration for the well being and social transformation of those left behind is now widely acknowledged. Using qualitative interviews conducted among men and women in 2007 in Senegal, we show how migration affects gender relationships at the family and couple levels, focusing on two issues : 1) To what extent do migrant men’s absences lead to reformulations of women’s roles and affect current gender relationships? 2) How has longstanding male emigration transformed women’s aspirations? Our data suggest two countervailing tendencies. First, successful migration tends to reinforce men’s status by consolidating male roles as the basis of family economic support. Second, male emigration leads women to position themselves through observing or experiencing the inequalities faced by migrant wives, and, simultaneously, women’s educational and employment aspirations are changing as a result of general social change of which male emigration is one dimension.

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Presented in Session 102: Gender inequalities in demographic outcomes