“Women Are Fond of Money Now”: Gendered Migration Patterns and Social Change in Rural Kyrgyzstan

Kathleen Sexsmith , Pennsylvania State University
Guangqing Chi, Pennsylvania State University
Christian Scott, Pennsylvania State University
Michaela Hoffelmeyer, Pennsylvania State University

The Republic of Kyrgyzstan is the fourth most labor migration-dependent economy in the world, with almost one-third of GDP derived from remittances. This migration is feminized, with young working age women forming a significant share of domestic and international migrants. However, international migration scholars know very little about the gender dynamics of Kyrgyz migration patterns, or how migration is related to changing gender norms in rural communities. This paper undertakes a gender analysis of migration from rural Kyrgyzstan. Based on mixed methods research involving 1,891 surveys and 80 interviews with Kyrgyz households, we compare the socio-demographic profiles of women and men migrants, their integration into international labor markets, their participation in migration-related decisions, and the relationship between women’s migration and changing gender norms at the community level. We find that women experience empowerment to participate in migration and decision-making but that patriarchal gender ideologies are changing slowly and unevenly.

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 Presented in Session 188. Migration's Impacts on Gender