Women on the move

Trends in International Migration, SOPEMI Report 2001
Page 48 

Women have traditionally been the “trailing spouse” when it comes to leaving their country.

The latest report on Trends in International Migration suggests that this may be changing. More women are migrating, and not necessarily to follow their hearts or their husbands’ pay cheques.

The report discusses the whole range of immigration topics, of course, including immigrants and the labour force and national policies on illegal immigration.

A spotlight on student mobility notes that more students are studying abroad as part of the general globalisation process, as language skills and cross-cultural experience become job qualifications.

The overall movement of skilled workers between countries is accelerating, thanks to better job prospects and the easing of entry requirements for certain categories of workers (see article by Mario Cervantes).

Retired people get a mention, too: easier transfers of pensions and the coming retirement of the baby-boom generation are likely to spur the trend toward the increasing mobility of retired expatriates.

Although re-uniting with other family members is still the most common motive for female migration, an increasing proportion of women is settling in other countries for work or because they are refugees.

In some non-Asian OECD countries, foreign women are employed in increasing numbers, especially in the health sector and household services. These women are largely from the Philippines, Indonesia, Peru, some countries in Central and Eastern Europe, and to a lesser degree from Sri Lanka and Thailand.

A growing practice that concerns OECD countries is the trafficking in women from developing and transition countries. Organised prostitution networks and illicit immigration rackets are at the root of a modern form of slavery, affecting women in particular.

Trends in International Migration, SOPEMI Report 2001 

©OECD Observer No 230, January 2002 

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