Demand for women migrant workers

A gender differentiated demand for labour seems to determine the migration flow of international women workers (Ghosh 2009). The majority of male migrants are engaged in production and construction. Women, on the other hand, are disproportionately engaged in the service sector in care and entertainment services. Characteristically, working conditions in the sector are likely to be more precarious than in male-dominated sectors, but employment generation is less likely to be affected by economic cycles as it is determined primarily by the labour market structure of the host countries and the countries’ social and cultural practices. The demand for domestic workers in GCC countries is a prime example. As indicated in table 1, women constitute the major segment of migrant domestic workers in the GCC countries. The largest groups of migrant women domestic workers are in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Several factors have triggered demand for women caregivers to the GCC countries as well as to locations in East and South East Asia. First, with improved economic positions, the hiring of domestic workers is considered a necessary comfort. Second, in several South-East Asian countries as well as some territories in East Asia, there has been a sharp increase in the women work participation rate, which has generated demand for domestic workers (Gulati 1997). At the same time, the hiring of domestic workers has become difficult either due to the shortage of local labourers or higher prices charged by them. Women labour migration from South Asia to Western Asia is essentially related to economic prosperity as the countries of Western Asia register very low women labour force participation rates. Thus, the feminization of international migration is linked to a global demand for domestic workers, reproducing the traditional gendered division of labour, in which women are relegated to lower-wage jobs (Agrawal 2006).