Challenges of Female Migration: Identifying Causes and Charting a Course for Empowerment

 Challenges of Female Migration: Identifying Causes and Charting a Course for Empowerment



Internal migration in India is a pivotal aspect of societal and economic interactions, contributing to 27% of the population from June 2020 to 2021. However, there exists a critical oversight regarding female migrants, who constitute a substantial portion but remain overlooked in discussions. This neglect raises concerns, particularly in the context of India’s declining Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR), prompting an examination of potential employment barriers faced by women in post-migration scenarios.



GS-02 GS-03 (Human Resource, Population, Poverty, Government Policies & Interventions, Indian Diaspora, Growth & Development)



Human Migration, India’s migrant workers, Migration in India Report 2020-21



Mains Question:

Discuss the inadequacies in current survey methodologies in capturing the dynamics of female migration in India. How can an improved data collection approach contribute to better policy formulation and address the unique challenges faced by female migrants? (250 words)



Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is Migration?
  • Causes


What is Migration?

  • Migration, as defined by the International Organization for Migration, encompasses the movement of any individual across an international border or within a state, away from their habitual place of residence. Analyzing migration patterns in terms of scale, direction, demography, and frequency provides valuable insights for developing effective policies, programs, and operational responses on the ground.
  • Factors Influencing Migration: Migration can occur either voluntarily or as a result of forced movements, driven by various factors such as the heightened occurrence of disasters, economic hardships, extreme poverty, or conflict situations. Notably, the Covid-19 pandemic has emerged as a significant recent driver of migration.
  • Push and Pull Factors of Migration: Push factors are those compelling individuals to leave their original location (out-migration) and migrate elsewhere. These factors include economic challenges, social reasons, and the underdevelopment of a particular place. On the other hand, pull factors are elements that attract migrants (in-migration) to a specific destination. Examples of pull factors include job opportunities, improved living conditions, and the availability of essential or advanced facilities.



Inadequacies in Surveys and Misleading Data:

  • Primary Focus on Marriage: National surveys, like the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), often provide misleading data as they predominantly emphasize marriage as the primary reason for female migration.
  • Limited Information on Secondary Motivations: Lack of information on secondary motivations, such as climate shocks or food insecurity, hampers a comprehensive understanding of women’s migration dynamics.
  • Misrepresentation of Employment Status: Employment status is misrepresented, leading to significant underreporting of women engaged in sectors like agriculture, construction, and domestic work.


Definitional Challenges and Underreported Employment:

  • Formal Contractual Arrangements: Definitional issues in surveys, particularly regarding employment, result in the underreporting of employment among migrant women. The emphasis on formal contractual arrangements overlooks informal and self-employed roles, which are common choices due to domestic commitments.


Human and Social Capital Barriers:

  • Educational Limitations: Migrant women face barriers in entering the formal labor force due to limited human capital, with the majority having less than 10 years of education.
  • Lack of Social Networks: A lack of social networks further complicates their employment prospects, posing challenges for their economic integration.


Invisible Struggles and Marginalization:

  • Political Underrepresentation: Despite a significant increase in female migration, migrant women remain largely invisible in policy considerations due to political underrepresentation. They are not perceived as a substantial vote bank, resulting in a lack of targeted policies.
  • Inadequate Policy Initiatives: The absence of awareness about the unique struggles and needs of female migrants leads to policy initiatives that inadequately address their challenges.


Way Forward:

Enhance Survey Methodologies:

  • Surveys should adopt comprehensive methodologies that capture both primary and secondary motivations for female migration, providing a more accurate portrayal.
  • Modify survey definitions to encompass informal and self-employed roles, ensuring a more accurate representation of employment status.

Address Human and Social Capital Barriers:

  • Implement programs for education and skill development to enhance human capital, making migrant women more competitive in the labor market.
  • Develop initiatives to promote social networks among migrant women, facilitating better access to employment opportunities.

Political Inclusion and Policy Advocacy:

  • Advocate for increased political representation of female migrants to ensure their concerns are considered in policy-making.
  • Develop and implement targeted policies that address the unique challenges faced by female migrants, including provisions for their economic empowerment and social integration.