Shortcomings of the Global Division: Data Analysis & A perspective on gendered migration
The global north and the global south division is essentially based on the socioeconomic condition of the countries in these regions. Since the countries in the global north are characterized by features which lead to human progress like wealth, democratic governance, peace and stability, these countries attract a large number of migrants. These migrants are mostly female. However, there are some exceptions to these trends. Not all socio economically well-off countries are in the global north and not all countries in the global north have large number of female migrants. Also, not all countries in the Global North have the higher proportion of female migrants and not all countries in the Global South have lower proportion of female migrants. In this section I will talk about the shortcomings of the global division and the possible reasons behind it.
For example, Qatar, which has the highest per capita gross domestic product, presumably the main characteristic of the global north is categorized as the global south. Also, although Qatar has seemingly high per capita gross domestic product – it receives lowest proportion of female migrants. The lowest proportion of female migrants in Qatar can be attributed to the challenges faced by the workers there and with its recruiting agencies in their own countries. In their paper, Migrant Workers in Qatar: Documenting their Current Situation, authors Pessao, Neama and Shirrawi write that “the findings indicate that migrant workers face various challenges starting in their country of origin with the use of unscrupulous recruiting agencies and constrained by the sponsorship system and the labor laws in Qatar. Specifically, challenges include falsification of work related documentation, long work hours and low salaries, unpaid wages, exploitation and abuse in the work place, unsafe working conditions, poor accommodations, medical problems, and accidents and fatalities.” These hardships faced by migrant workers makes it difficult for women workers to migrate to Qatar.
An interview with an ambassador in the Indian embassy in Qatar about an Indian housemaid (working in Qatar) reveals the grave and pathetic condition of workers. She was badly abused by her sponsor and as a result she decided to finally runaway. It was reported that he (sponsor) mistreated her and burned her face and body with cigarettes. She was badly terrified and sad about the situation. When interviewed directly by a student researcher she revealed that she was physically and sexually abused. She had not received her salary for five months. She was badly tortured and made to sleep in the bathroom. When she complained to the sponsor’s wife, she (wife) tried to hide the actions of her husband.
The interviewer writes, “although she wanted to run away earlier and seek help, she had little mobility and knowledge about potential assistance. She tried to contact the recruiter who brought her to Qatar but was never able to communicate with him. She also tried to leave the household before but she was not allowed to go out. Given her physical state, she was taken to the hospital for emergency treatment. Following the treatment, she was sheltered in the deportation center before being sent home. To date, a court case decision has not been made yet in regard to the sponsors.”
This story of the migrant Indian housemaid is the story of one of the many scary incidents taking place in Qatar. This story suggests how migration has both opportunity and risk to offer. More importantly, wealth is not the only factor that attracts migrants. Rich countries in the Persian Gulf including Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq have the fewest female immigrants. United Arab Emirates had less than 27 percent female immigrants in the year 2005. These countries are really rich nations but it is clearly evident that wealth alone does not explain women’s greater presence in its immigrant population. Therefore, the higher rate of female migration to the global north is not solely due to the wealth of the nations in the region. It deals with the policies and regulations in the host countries as well.
Not all countries in the Global South receive smaller proportion of female migrant population than the countries in the Global North. An example is Nepal. Nepal is a country in the Global South. It receives 68 % female migrants which is the largest proportion of female migrants received by any country. It is important to notice that the country with the greatest proportion of women among its immigrant population, is not only in the global south but is also one of the poorest within that region. The Human Development Index rank of Nepal is 145 and the GDP is USD 2,244, relatively less than many countries even in the Global North.
The large proportion of female immigrant population in Nepal can be attributed to its geographical location. Nepal is a landlocked country surrounded by the two most populous countries in the world, China (largest population in the world) in the north and India (second largest population in the world) in the south. The plain area of the Terai in the south, hills and river in the east and river on the east bound Nepal India border. This makes the travel between the two countries easier from all directions and locations in the Terai plain of the south. In 1961, 96% of the total foreign-born persons in Nepal were India born population. There is an overwhelming population concentration in the Terai which marks the distribution of the foreign born population in Nepal. Terai had 92.9% of the total foreign born population, India accounted for 94.8 percent of the total foreign born population. The overwhelming preponderance of females over males (females – 69.4% of the total foreign born population) marks the sex composition of the foreign born population in Nepal. This is attributed to the marriage migration especially from India and China. Since the border between Nepal and India are open and there is certain social and cultural relations, it makes marriage migration possible between both sides of the border in the east, west and south. The largest number of marriage migration takes place along the southern border. The social, cultural and economic relations makes the marriage migration common and an easily consolidated event between India and Nepal.
Also, China is another country in the Global South with a high proportion of women in its immigrant population. China receives 59% female migrant population. The high percentage of female migrant population in China is also attributed to marriage migration. Marriage migration affects the population in both origin and destination countries. In marriage migration, normally women from less developed area move to developed area. In case of Nepal, a large number of Chinese men marry Vietnamese women. These women are from rural areas in the northern Vietnam and have normally lower level of education. Vietnamese women prefer to marry Chinese men instead of Vietnamese men because they think that there will be a better life in Nepal. They consider China a better place than Vietnam because of better economic conditions, higher standard of living and better qualities of housing. This will also entail geographic mobility. The Chinese men marrying Vietnamese women are mostly from lower socio-economic standard with few years of education. They marry Vietnamese women because they find it difficult to find Chinese wives because of their low economic status. Also, there is overall shortage of marriage age women in China. Being a patriarchal society which prefers male child, there is less number of female children in China. Also, government-instituted one child policy is a big factor for the preference of male child. This has led to high rates of female fetus abortion, infanticide and abandonment causing a sex imbalance. Cross- border marriages and migration in Nepal are simplified by cultural, linguistic similarities and historical connections between the border regions of China and Vietnam.
The trend of female migration to Nepal and China also illustrates that the global division is not a strict division. There are exceptions to it. Nepal and China are great examples to evaluate how marriage migration work. The flow of migration depends on various factors and situations suggesting not all countries in the Global South are lower recipient of female migrants. Societal needs and cultural phenomenon play an integral role in determining the flow of migration to a country.
Contrary to the statement – countries in the global north receive larger proportion of female immigrant population, data shows that Venezuela, a country in the Global South that receives 58% female migrants which is higher than the proportion of female migrants received by countries in the Global North. Venezuela has a Human Development Index Rank of 67 and the GDP is USD 18, 198. The high proportion of female migrant population in Venezuela is attributed to the fact that Venezuela has many illegal immigrants. Due to economic crisis and absence of migration policies, women migrants enter the country with tourist visa in search of employment in domestic sector and they end up getting trafficked as sex worker. As Venezuelan economy grew, it started attracting more female migrants, especially from Colombia, who mostly worked as domestic servants. 90% of female migrants received by Venezuela are Colombians.
Costa Rica is in the Global South and receives 52% female immigrants. Most of them are Nicaraguan refugees. In 1989, more than 75% of all refugees in Costa Rica were Nicaraguans. These migrants were integral part of the economy and society. Costa Rica is not so poor country and has a thriving tourism industry. Nicaraguans are attracted to Costa Rica hopping to earn a better living. In the year 1998 the Hurricane Mitch made the Nicaraguans to migrate to Costa Rica both legally and illegally. The economy of Costa Rica attracts Nicaraguans and is the primary motivator for the migration. Some of the reasons that has made this migration easy are ease of border crossing, availability of jobs and a common language. The migration still continues. They make up significant proportion of Costa Rica population. In the year 1998, out of 66,786 documented Nicaraguans in Costa Rica, 54.5 percent were women. 54.6% of these female migrants were in the labor market. This was higher than the women’s labor force participation of Nicaraguans in Nicaragua. 68% of working female Nicaraguans in Costa Rica had job in urban sector suggesting there were jobs available (employment opportunities) in Costa Rica. However, illegal migration of Nicaraguans is a huge issue in Costa Rica. Their spatially increasing population of both male and women immigrants take part in both rural and urban economic environments, a large number of them are married and they form minority ethnic group. This group always try to assimilate with Costa Rican population. These migrant women also work in Costa Rica’s evolving export agriculture sector.
Shortcomings of the Global Division: Data Analysis & A perspective on gendered migration