Where and How Are Indian Women Migrating?


Global migration flows changed dramatically from the early 1980s, both in terms of direction and gender. In 2000, Asia witnessed 85 million female migrants compared to 90 million male migrants. 

Where and how are these women migrating?





The linked trajectories of migration, marriage, and trafficking are evident in the circular route map above, but these are not addressed in studies of migration which focus mostly on labour. The stereotype of female immobility after marriage adds to this. When thinking of the role of marriage in women’s stories of migration, there are some things to be taken into account.


i) Marriage and economic factors are conjoined, so much so that one cause cannot be attributed for migration.

ii) For poor women, whose possible migration trajectory is detailed above, domestic work includes a range of productive and subsistence household work that easily spills into paid work as and when required by the family.

iii) Marriage is a key element in promoting circularity of movement and sustaining it, in the case of both domestic and sex workers.


Samita Sen explores the history and nature of women’s migration through a study of colonial West Bengal in her article "Impossible Immobility."




Curated by: Sohnee Harshey [sohnee@epw.in]

Illustration: Chaitanya Mandugula

Back to Top