Working Abroad while Families at Home: Negotiating Patriarchal Role for Women in South Asia: A Case Study of Gopalganj District of Bihar, India

Muskan Mustaqeem


In recent times, South Asia has emerged as the highest emigrant sending region to the Gulf. According to the United Nations Population Division (2017) 20.3 million stocks of migrants is in the Gulf countries, among the total number of South Asian migrants were 13millions which accounted for 63.9 percent of the total number of stock of migrants in the Persian Gulf. Due to this huge outpouring of workers, the region has also emerged as the largest receiver of remittances. It is interesting to note that these South Asian migrants are generally from the strata of societies where patriarchal structures are still in their rigidities as modernity has not yet penetrated there to change the feudal mentality, especially towards assigning women’s role in society.  Patriarchy defines a limited socio-economic role for women. They undergo inflexible social processes and remain disadvantaged often affecting their rights, social status, mobility, autonomy, and decision-making capabilities.  The physical absence of their husbands, the heads of the home, and the influx of remittance have positively impacted the lives of these women as they are now able to renegotiate their social roles and responsibilities.  The process has helped to loosen the rigidities of the patriarchal structure. The objective of the research is to find out how the truancy of men has transformed and emancipated/empowered women in home countries. This study examines the literature on the socio-economic impact of male migration, and how it affects women's mobility and empowerment in left-behind families. This qualitative research evaluates women’s empowerment through one independent variable i.e., husband’s emigration, and three dependent variables, women's decision-making power, mobility, and autonomy in the absence of their husbands within the framework of gender empowerment. For the convenience of this research, 50 samples of Gulf emigrants’ families living in the Gopalgunj district of Bihar, India have been selected (Data is collected from the field through informal and conversational interviews, questionnaires, and convenience sampling is used). This research argues that a significant social transformation in gender roles has occurred due to husbands’ migration.


Labor Migration from India, South Asia, West Asia, immigration, Emigration, Gulf Wives, Women empowerment.

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Copyright (c) 2020 Muskan Mustaqeem

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Journal of South Asian Studies
ISSN: 2307-4000 (Online), 2308-7846 (Print)
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