Voices from the Margins: Migrant Women's Experiences in Southern Africa

"The concept of the feminization of migration traditionally refers to the growth in numbers and relative importance of women’s migration, particularly from and within developing countries. In Africa, for example, the proportion of female migrants rose from 42% of the total in 1 960 to almost 50% at the present time. This process is a result, first, of the continued impoverishment and marginalization of many women in developing countries; and second, of the increasing demand for female labour in the service industries of industrial and industrializing countries. The United Nations suggests that the full implications of migration and mobility for women are difficult to assess, due to a dearth of data on women and migration. What also eludes official statistics is the extent to which women migrants are independent actors in migration decision- making. There remains a lack of understanding of women’s motives and experiences in the migration process, which is linked historically to the invisibility and marginalization of women as migrants. In Southern Africa, there is still a serious lack of gendered analysis of contemporary cross-border migration, and limited understanding of women’s experiences as migrants."