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Migration as Emancipation? The Impact of Internal and International Migration on the Position of Women Left Behind in Rural Morocco


  • Hein de Haas
  • Aleida van Rooij


Based on quantitative and qualitative fieldwork, this paper analyses how internal and international out-migration of men has affected the position of women left behind in a rural area in southern Morocco. The results generally refute the hypothesis that migration changes gender roles. Although international migration and remittances enable women and their families to live more comfortable and secure lives, internal migration often coincides with increasing workloads and uncertainty. Although their husbands' migration leads to a temporary increase in the tasks and responsibilities of women, this new role is generally perceived as a burden and should therefore not be equated with emancipation in the meaning of making independent choices against prevailing gender norms. In a classical “patriarchal bargain”, women prefer to avoid overt rule-breaking in order to secure their social position. Significant improvements in the position of rural women are primarily the result of general social and cultural change, although migration might have played an indirect, accelerating role in these processes.

Suggested Citation

  • Hein de Haas & Aleida van Rooij, 2010. "Migration as Emancipation? The Impact of Internal and International Migration on the Position of Women Left Behind in Rural Morocco," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(1), pages 43-62.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:38:y:2010:i:1:p:43-62
    DOI: 10.1080/13600810903551603

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Frank Ellis, 2000. "The Determinants of Rural Livelihood Diversification in Developing Countries," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 289-302.
    2. Louka T. Katseli & Robert E.B. Lucas & Theodora Xenogiani, 2006. "Effects of Migration on Sending Countries: What Do We Know?," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 250, OECD Publishing.
    3. Ellis, Frank, 2000. "Rural Livelihoods and Diversity in Developing Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198296966.
    4. Fargues, Philippe, 2006. "The demographic benefit of international migration : hypothesis and application to the Middle Eastern and North African contexts," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4050, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sylvie Démurger, 2015. "Migration and families left behind," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 144-144, April.
    2. Hein de Haas & Tineke Fokkema, 2010. "Intra-Household Conflicts in Migration Decisionmaking: Return and Pendulum Migration in Morocco," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 36(3), pages 541-561.
    3. Dina Najjar & Boubaker Dhehibi & Aden Aw-Hassan & Abderrahim Bentaibi, 2017. "Climate Change, Gender, Decision-Making Power, and Migration into the Saiss Region of Morocco," Working Papers 1102, Economic Research Forum, revised 06 Jan 2017.

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