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Labor migration from India to the Persian Gulf and its effects on the everyday life of women who remain in their home region

11.12.2018

Prof. Dr. Hannah Brückner, New York University Abu Dhabi and member of the LIfBi Scientific Advisory Board, reported on the first results of her project "Migration and Kerala's Gender Paradox" as part of the LIfBi lectures series.

Prof. Dr. Hannah Brückner provides insight into the research project "Migration and Kerala's Gender Paradox". 

For three generations now, migrant workers in the Persian Gulf have come from the province of Kerala in the southwest of the Indian subcontinent. Most of them are men between the ages of 20 and 40 and most of them are married. Their wives stayed behind in an area of India that, after long decades of left-wing government, has some amazing parameters in terms of gender inequality for an emerging country or a BRICS state (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Some examples: The level of education is comparatively high and infant mortality is at the level of white Americans. These indicators suggest that the participation of women in the labor market is high. Empirically, however, this is not the case; instead, an employment rate of less than 20% for these women seems downright paradoxical. Based on her own data, Brückner explains this paradox above all as a cultural phenomenon: The social status construction of a middle-class family does not allow women to work.