More Women on the Move, Seeking Economic Opportunity
Today, more women in India than ever before are migrating around the country for better economic opportunities, reports The Indian Express.
The conclusion comes from a paper by Professor Amitabh Kundu, a distinguished fellow with the Research and Information System from Developing Countries, which analyzed data from the 64th round of National Sample Survey (NSS), as well as the 2011 Census, and National Health and Family Survey IV (NHFS-4).
Twenty-five years ago, 38.2% of urban women were migrants; by 2008, 45.6% of urban women were migrants. For urban men, the stats barely changed, going from 23.9% to 25.9% in the corresponding time period.
Historically, women’s migration patterns have been a result of marriage, but Kundu’s paper finds, “marriage mobility of women is determined by socio-cultural factors that change slowly over time and hence the spurt in their migration rate must be attributed to economic factors.”
The paper says sharp decreases in child marriage and the number of mothers or pregnant women between ages 15 and 19 mean more women are able to be mobile and take advantage of financial opportunities in other markets. However, female migrants make up the bottom run of urban migration: “A large percentage of them work as domestic help whose demand has gone up with the increase in work participation rate among middle- and upper-class women,” Kundu told The Indian Express. Family migration at higher education and skill levels has also supported the increase in female migration.
The reports suggests “women [sic] work participation and their mobility for economic reasons show a happy rising trend.”
But obscures a a less happy one: Women’s participation in India’s labor force has dropped from 35% in 2005 to 26% now; even as women are seeking out jobs in different markets and are joining the workforce in increasing numbers, they aren’t staying in it. Clearly, something is keeping them from continuing with work.
Still, when the free movement of girls and women remains so restricted, and financial independence for women isn’t encouraged, the fact that more Indian women are striking out in search of financial security is something to celebrate.