Migrant women, transnational relations and social change: how do Senegalese women combine migration with family life?

Nathalie Mondain, Université d'Ottawa

Despite a growing interest in women’s mobility, still few studies examine the drivers of women’s international migration. Moreover, as the decision to stay or to leave is tightly related to men and women’s respective social roles and statuses in the society of origin, to what extent can women develop their own individual migration project in societies based on a patriarchal system such as the Wolof people of Senegal? Combining data from qualitative individual interviews and a retrospective biographic survey conducted in 2012-2013 among both migrant and non-migrant women in a small town North-West of Senegal, we are demonstrating how women manipulate the normative discourse and expectations to either develop their own independent migration project or, for those who are migrating with their partner, find ways to reinforce their role and status in their community through migration. We further discuss the effects of migration on women’s marriage and fertility.

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Presented in Session 69: Female Migration: Patterns, Adaptation and Lifestyle