The world is increasingly mobile. Currently there are more than 244 million migrants worldwide, up from 173 million in 2000. Migrants leave home countries for many reasons: some are displaced by conflict and environmental degradation; others migrate to find work and support their families; still others migrate to reunify families.

Women make up almost half of all international migrants. As borders become more permeable and routes for migration proliferate, many women migrants have sought work overseas to provide remittances and economic support to their families back in home countries. Many women migrate to wealthier countries to perform care work as domestic servants, child-care and health-care workers, those who prepare our food, cooks, cleaners and janitors. The ILO estimates that there are over 150 million migrant workers worldwide and that approximately 11.5 million are migrant domestic workers laboring in private homes. Migrants accounted for 47 percent of the increase in the care workforce in the United States and 70 percent in Europe over the past ten years. In Australia, foreign born workers make up more than 25 percent of all care workers, in Austria and Israel this figure rises to 50 percent and in Italy to 72 percent. In the majority of the occupations where migrants cluster in care work, women make up the majority of care workers, and increasingly the majority of these women are foreign born.

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Imported to Care

This blog originally appeared on Ms.Blog. Click here to read

ICRW's Role

ICRW provides a platform for collaborative research on migration, gender and development relying on diverse methodologies and approaches. Our researchers investigate the significance of gender in migration processes in the current global context.


ICRW’s priority research areas include:

Labor migration and gender

ICRW has conducted research and policy analysis on gender and migration. We have explored current migration trends, analyzing the top twenty labor-importing countries and the labor-sending countries and exploring how migration has the potential to change opportunities for women and their families, providing access to new and better jobs, greater income and the possibility to send remittances and support families at home. This research provided input for the 2017 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) for their priority theme on Women´s Economic empowerment in the changing world of work.

Care work and migration

ICRW has also analyzed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has argued that addressing gender and migration through the SDG framework can help resolve care deficits, improve the terms and conditions of employment for care workers and enable host countries to meet their commitments to the SDGs.

Female migration and social transformation

We have analyzed internal migration in Senegal, where adolescent and young women migrate to cities seasonally or permanently to earn income in domestic service. This research explores how migration affects shifting social norms and practices around marriage and family formation in general. We have also explored how contraceptive use and practices alter in rural Thailand a context of migration.

Migration and violence

We have researched and written about the migration crisis in Central America where women and children are increasingly seeking to migrate northwards to escape violence in their communities.

Migration and refugee services

We have also conducted research on how to reach Syrian refugee survivors of violence in Lebanon, evaluating specific interventions and programs.

Migration and remittances

We have examined how migration provides remittances that can lead to the acquisition of assets such as land, housing, small machinery, consumer durables and livestock for migrants and their households in home countries.

We have also explored the relationship between remittance practices, gender and Islam among a group of male Bangladeshi immigrants in New York City.

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