The injuries of feminization of the migration process

For a long time until now, women have been exposed to injury and dangers such as domestic violence, sexual violence, less presence in sensitive jobs, migration, and less access to education and adequate health. In this study, an attempt will be made to evaluate the effect of immigration on women in recent years.
5 September 2023
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Massoumeh Seif Afjei

For a long time until now, women have been exposed to injury and dangers such as domestic violence, sexual violence, less presence in sensitive jobs, migration, and less access to education and adequate health. In this study, an attempt will be made to evaluate the effect of immigration on women in recent years.

Human migration has existed for hundreds of thousands of years and has depended on several factors. The most important one is based on war, poverty, disease, political issues, lack of food, natural disasters, unemployment, and lack of security. The second reason can be the favorable conditions and factors that attract the destination of migration, such as more health facilities, better education, more income, better housing, political freedoms, and a better environment.

In today's latest statistics and a review of the migration situation, the UN global report in this regard indicates that in 2020, there were about 281 million international migrants in the world, which was equivalent to 3.6% of the total world population. It is estimated that the number of international migrants has increased over the past five decades. The 281 million people living in a country other than their country of birth in 2020 has increased by 128 million since the 1990s and more than tripled since the 1970s.

According to the same UN report, between 2000 and 2020, Asia experienced the largest growth of immigrants, with 74% (about 37 million people), and Europe, with an increase of 30 million international immigrants, experienced the second-largest growth of immigrants in this period. North America, with 18 million international migrants, and Africa, with 10 million migrants, are ranked next.


Feminization of migration

Since all immigrants do not have the citizenship of the host country, they are vulnerable to human rights violations, and when they enter a country, regardless of whether their entry is legal or illegal, they see their rights being ignored compared to the nationals of that country.

The most important feature of migration in the new era, which has become known as the era of migration, is the feminization of migration. The feminization of migration has quantitative and qualitative dimensions. In the quantitative dimension, it means the increase of women's presence in the migration flows, and in the qualitative dimension, it means that women are not just secondary migrants, but they have an active role and an independent presence in the migration process.

Psychologist Hoffman believes that in patriarchal societies, the number of female immigrants is less, and in contrast to countries where women have more independence, they migrate more. In this way, migration is a gendered process because the reasons, ways, patterns, and consequences of migration are different for men and women. The feminization of migration is related to social changes, especially to the outbreak of war in the origin country, with the aim of finding security and the labor market in the destination country. Therefore, women increasingly migrate internationally with or without their husbands. Some young women and girls immigrate in order to escape the control of their families or due to forced early marriage. Gender norms may lead women and girls to migrate. These cases are more evident among African and Southeast Asian girls. Although immigrant women may earn more than their country, they experience discrimination, exploitation, low wages, social isolation, and stress in some parts of the labor market.

Some believe that immigration can improve the independence, human capital, self-esteem, and empowerment of women in the family and society, change traditional norms, and introduce them to fairer social norms and women's rights, providing more access to resources and, economic jobs, and educational opportunities. When immigrant women return to their homes or homeland, most of them have gained independence, skills, and expertise.

Even if migration can be useful, it can lead to many limitations, such as social norms and limited laws or types of racial and gender discrimination. This is despite the fact that human rights must be respected for all human beings, regardless of their immigration status. Men mainly migrate for economic reasons, but women migrate mostly for social and cultural reasons. Meanwhile, immigrant women have a more sensitive status.

Therefore, the migration of women often causes the living and working conditions in the destination country to intensify and become more difficult. For example, women are more vulnerable to sexual abuse. In many countries, the legal application of human rights norms regarding foreigners, especially illegal immigrants, is insufficient or very limited.



Iran's situation in the field of immigration

Historically, Iran has been a society that accepts immigrants and does not send immigrants. What is certain is that Iran is a young country in the field of immigration and does not have the history and experience of immigration like the Western countries that have faced this issue for centuries. It is obvious that the policies developed by Western countries in the field of managing foreign immigrants and the budgets they allocate to the issue of immigration have no history in Iran[1]. Also, the formulation of economic policies of these countries for their citizens cannot be compared with Iran, which is involved in 8 years of classic war and two decades of economic war due to unilateral sanctions.

One of the fundamental differences between the structure of immigrants from many countries and Iranian immigrants is that Iranian immigrants, even the poorest ones in Western Europe, especially in Germany and Scandinavia, are very different from the early and middle 20th-century immigrants from Eastern Europe and Asia to developed countries. The immigrants of the latter groups were mostly poor and did not take capital with them. They do not have the capital to return to their country, even causing losses in many fields to the receiving countries. In addition, moral issues play a role in immigration in some cases. People with dark financial or political histories immigrated, and today, they show off their success while, in fact, they have tried to leave the wealth of the country.

A number of Western media, with the aim of anti-Iranians, have been raising the problems they have been dealing with over the decades of immigration to Iran. Many young Iranians, especially women who immigrate without financial and emotional capital, face severe mental, emotional, and financial challenges in foreign countries. Many of them regret their hasty decisions, and only because of pride, do they continue to live abroad.

In the immigration debate, the issue is about the reality we are dealing with. On the one hand, we are witnessing the damage of a country from immigration against the benefit of immigration-receiving countries from attracting the scientific, cultural, and financial capital of immigrants to their countries, and on the other hand, we are witnessing the vulnerability of immigrants due to lack of sufficient information and knowledge of immigration conditions and foresight from its disadvantages.

Fortunately, the policy of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has focused on attracting Iranians abroad, and by clarifying the disadvantages of immigration, which have increased due to anti-Iranian propaganda, it can make the youth aware of the happiness bubble they imagine.

Masoumeh Saif Afjeai, Manager of Human Rights and Women's Studies Department

(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)


 Nine hundred sixty thousand people have requested to immigrate to the European Union in 2022, and this figure is faced with a 52% increase to the previous year. This year, the European Union has allocated a budget of 1 billion 400 thousand euros to prevent illegal immigration. Europe has been facing the migration problem for years and has allocated 22 billion and 700 million euros for border management for 2021-2027.

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