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Impacts and Implications of Migration to Gender Equality and Poverty Alleviation

Impacts and Implications of Migration to Gender Equality and Poverty Alleviation


Gender disparity in economic independence and development is a thing, which is a problem that has lasted for several years. Women have been the biggest casualties of inequality in development owing to gender stereotypes and discrimination meted upon them. Poverty levels are high among women when compared with their male counterparts. Men are perceived as family breadwinners, and for that reason, they gave more attention and privilege in the employment sector to the detriment of women. In developing countries, the disparity in economic independence between men and women is highest. In most of the developing countries, perceived gender roles have denied women an opportunity to engage their male counterparts in economic activities competitively. Most women are tied to traditional gender roles, which are staying home working on domestic chores and taking care of the family (Irena 2005, p. 1). Consequently, women are made to become dependent on their male counterparts to cater for their financial needs. However, dependence on men has subjected women to violence, compromise of sexual and economic freedom (Irena 2005, p. 2). Therefore, it is important to liberate women from poverty by offering them equal employment and development opportunities to ensure their economic and financial independence.

This paper will expound on the impacts and implications of migration to gender equality and poverty alleviation. The paper will take the case of Chinese migrants to Africa to explain the situation. Inequality in economic independence has prompted women to migrate from their traditional environment to other areas in such of economic independence. Migration to new environments has not only helped women to exploit their economic potential but also experience harsh gender-based exploitations. Lack of equal access to and control over important economic resources have prompted Chinese women migrants to turn to self-employment and other activities in an attempt to liberate themselves from poverty and establish their economic independence.

China has been developing rapidly, and its impact on the global economy has been phenomenal in the recent past. Chinese corporations have played a significant role in managing, financing, and operating major infrastructural development projects across the globe (Ndjio 2014, p. 372). The presence of Chinese corporations across the globe has provided people of Chinese decent with an opportunity to try out new environments with the view of acquiring economic prosperity. Just like their male counterparts, Chinese women have not been left behind in trying to exploit new opportunities for economic liberations. Africa is one of the continents where corporations from China have increased presence. The presence of Chinese corporations in Africa is hallmarked by migration of Chinese citizens with technical skills and those without any technical skills (Hilson et al. 2014, p. 297).

In the recent past, Africa has become an important investment destination for China. China presence has helped in transforming not only economic development of African states but also in reducing the reliance of Africa on Western aid. However, the presence of people of Chinese descent has not been received positively by some of the natives across the African continent; some people view the Chinese immigrants as a threat to the available economic resources and employment opportunities ((Hilson et al. 2014, p. 299).

Despite migration of Chinese to African states, most of them are men with explicit technical skills in engineering, information technology, architecture and other professions. Most of the women immigrants are illiterates, and they lack any technical expertise to get involved in major business and development projects run by Chinese. There are more than 800 Chinese corporations operating in Africa. Most of the corporations operate in the mining, agriculture, and construction of railways, roads, buildings, and dams. Most of the Chinese companies prefer hiring their Chinese employees with the technical know-how required for running projects. Consequently, most Chinese immigrants Africa have come as temporal employees working on Chinese initiated projects. However, there are those Chinese who go as large and small-scale entrepreneurs in the retail sectors of the economy. It is estimated that there are more than 820,000 Chinese immigrants in 48 African states (Yoon 2009, p. 4).

Migration of people can result from poverty. However, few poor people migrate due to the high cost involved in migration. Moreover, migration can lead to poverty especially among the families when the breadwinner migrates (Olemaniuk 1). On the other, migration of women can alleviate poverty since it increases productivity, education, and health of women, which is key to reducing gender inequality and poverty eradication (Olemaniuk 1). Females migrate for different reasons depending on the part of the globe that they come from.

Determinants of Female Migration

Females’ migrants are increasing rapidly owing to different reasons. One of the reasons attributed to increasing of female migrants is growing the participation of women in the workforce ((Olemaniuk 1). Moreover, the desire to exploit new environments for economic liberations is another factor that prompts women to migrate to other new areas. Additionally, the need for women to liberate themselves from social and cultural restrictions has men many women to migrate to new areas. Restrictive the roles assigned to women in their origin countries, by culture or religion, force women to wander in pursuit of better living environments coupled with economic independence (Zachariah et al. 2001). The restrictive gender roles create gender inequality by denying women equal employment and access to economic resources, which increases poverty among women. Migration helps raise individuals from poverty to lower middle class (ILO 2004). Moreover, some demographic plans like in China, which advocate for the “one child” policy has prompted many females to migrate to different parts of the world in search of, better living standards and economic freedom.

Chinese Migrants in Africa

Most of the Chinese who migrate Africa are temporal employees who move large construction and business enterprises. However, there has been a great insurgence of Chinese in Africa who are engaging in labor relations. The informal laborious are illegal immigrants who are competing with their native counterparts to earn a living. Most of the economists are describing the immigration of Chinese into African countries as increased interactions between south and south as opposed to the previous North and South interactions (Ndjio 2014, p. 372). Most African countries were depending on the “North” which is the developed countries for economic prosperity. According to Giese and Thiel ( 2014, p. 1807), “South-South labor relations in transnational migrant businesses employing local labor can offer new and relevant perspectives that might differ very much from experiences in the developed world and the formal economy.” Just like their male counterparts, Chinese women are also involved in the informal labor in the African countries. Most of the informal traders are involved in activities such as mining, small businesses, and informal activities.

Chinese traders have a big presence in many African countries such as Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, and Cameroon. The Chinese merchant’s control business in the big African cities. However, those without financial clout, are involved in informal sectors such as small business and working in mines (Appave, & Laczko 2005, p. 7). Women are the most disadvantaged since most of them do not have the necessary technical skills and financial power required to venture into productive business. For instance in Cameroon, there has been an influx of Chinese women in the informal sector. Some of the women are involved in commercial sex to help them earn a living (Ndjio 2014, p. 375). The women accompany the large construction enterprises and business that are taking root in the African continent. The women are not working in the Chinese international corporations, but the corporations set the ground clear for them to access African countries. The presence of the Chinese sex workers has created a big row between them and native sex workers. The Chinese sex workers are taking control of most urban centers eliminating native sex workers who were in the market to liberate themselves from poverty (Ndjio 2014, p. 373) Poverty has made most of the African women to take to the streets at wee hours to engage in commercial sex. In most African countries, women have been denied the opportunity to participate in education because of restrictive social and cultural practices. Lack of education undermines their ability to participate in skilled labor since they do not have the required knowledge (Ndjio 2014, p. 376). Lack education and reliable employment create inequality between women and men. The disparity in income between women and men dispose women to lesser-regarded occupations like domestic work or sex work (Omelaniuk 3). Women are pushed into low profile occupations by their desire to shape out places for control and impact at family and in the public. By acquiring spaces of control, women can liberate themselves from poverty and discrimination meted upon them by their male counterparts.

Cause of Women Poverty

Just like their African counterparts, Chinese women also face various challenges in their country. The challenges have prompted the Chinese women to migrate to other places for the search of better economic pastures, and Africa is one of them. The African countries are decent for the Chinese commercial sex workers because of their exotic nature (Ndjio 2014, p. 375). Most of the African men prefer them to the natives because of their exotic character. Evidently, human poverty and capability perspective make it possible to show that women are indeed poorer than men are. When using different dimension and capabilities such as education and health, it possible to see that women are discriminated. Resource allocation is biased against women in societies making it difficult for them to participate effectively in well-paying jobs. Gender inequality has been contributed largely to inequality in the distribution of productive input such as credit, command over property or earned income and bias in labor market (Cagatay 1998, 8). Discrimination of women in the economic and political realms exposes women to more vulnerability of gender inequality and chronic poverty. Discrimination of women keeps them tied on caring and reproductive duties that are unpaid. Moreover, when women are employed, they are paid lower wages than their male counterparts are. Additionally, women work longer hours, but they receive little pay and control over their work. Lack of necessary skills limits the number of productive economic activities that women can engage in the society. Limited space pushes women to desperate solutions such as commercial sex. In addition, the vulnerability of women to poverty is increased by other factors such as microeconomic policies, political crisis, ethnic conflict, and health related crisis. Women have a higher work burden than their male counterparts. The poor women in the society cannot afford to hire house helps to take care of their household work. Consequently, social responsibilities restrain women from taking part in paid productive economic activities as compared to their male counterparts. Therefore, the universal social responsibility of women does not only expose women to poverty but also limit their ability to liberate themselves from poverty.

On the other hand, men are more favored by economic, social, and political situations more than their male counterparts in the society are. Men have more access to better education, control over property and income, and the authority to make decisions both in the family and community level. Men empowerment has helped them to benefit economically to the detriment of their male counterparts.

Other than bias on girl’s education, marriage norms about girls, lack of control over property, lack of mobility is another factor that accounts largely in poverty among women. However, the mobility of women has increased significantly in the recent past through migration. Migration of women has provided them with an escape route from poverty. Despite the fact that migration helps women to access better way of life and develop self-confidence, it also exposes them to greater susceptibility of manipulation, human trading, and mishandling (Haong 2013, p.4). The gendered division of labor in the society continues to expose women to low regarded occupations that are not considered as work by most of the people. Because of the gendered division of labor, women have continued to work in social work such as taking care of the elderly and house helps (Haong 2013, p. 4). Consequently, the impact of migration has not significantly improved the economic disparity between men and men in the society. Women are still exposed to gender bias regarding the division of labor (Irena 2005, p. 8). Lack of necessary skills plays a significant role in undermining women’s liberation from poverty. Migration itself has not helped women to escape from discrimination and bias in sharing of resources (Appave, & Laczko 2005, p. 7). However, migration has assisted women to escape from restrictive social norms back in their homes that increase gender inequality in the society. The global economic policies have also increased discrimination against women economically (Haong 2013, p. 4). The global economy provides an environment for the rich to continue being rich while the poor continue to be undermined in the society. 

How to Improve the Situation

Since migration has not helped to effectively remove the barriers that hinder achievement of gender equality in the economic perspective, it is important to design a different approach to ensure gender equality has been achieved (Appave, & Laczko 2005, p. 32). One of the factors that can assist in the achievement of gender equality is equal education opportunities for both the boy and the girl child. Education will equip the females’ with necessary technical skills required for meaningful employment opportunities and enable them to compete effectively with their male counterparts (Cagatay 1998, p. 12). Moreover, States should create an enabling environment that encourages liberation of women from poverty (Cagatay 1998, p. 13). Additionally, the globalization should be adjusted to equality in development among states.

Immigration is an important aspect in liberating women from gender inequality and elimination of poverty. Immigration provides an escape route from restrictive social norms that undermine women in the society. Despite immigration being an important strategy for improving equality between men and women in the society, it is important to consider other factors that influence gender equality. Education, political policies, economic policies, revision of gender roles and equal opportunities are some of the factors that ought to be considered.


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