Migrant wives: dynamics of the empowerment process
An increasing number of male migrants are taking part in intra- and inter-regional migration in Asia, leaving their wives behind at home. Their wives, whom we call emigrant wives, often adapt to new roles and responsibilities and thus undergo empowerment in the migration process. This paper examines the impact of male migration on the empowerment of emigrant wives by comparing and contrasting the experiences of emigrant wives vis-à-vis non-emigrant wives. The research identifies and describes four major areas where emigrant wives tend to engage in the absence of their migrant husbands: access to economic resources, physical mobility, residential independence and decision-making role in key family affairs. Empirically, this study draws on fieldwork at two migration-source villages in Bangladesh. The study reports that emigrant wives gain new experiences in dealing with family and wider society in comparison with non-emigrant wives, and thus that migration exposes them to processes of greater empowerment.