UNIFEM, a UN agency that specializes on women’s issues, identified the following factors that influence women migration abroad:
- increasing poverty and insecurity of livelihoods;
- increasing work pressures under globalization’s unregulated market model of development;
- family pressures on women especially in those contexts where women have a greater degree of mobility to work abroad, to complement the family income;
- desire for better living standards, material gratification, more competitive lifestyles, desire for adventure and broader horizons – mostly induced by the media and new information and communications technologies;
- emergence of “women-specific” skilled and unskilled jobs in the formal and informal manufacturing sector;
- the perceived suitability of women in certain sectors because of stereotyped images (domestic service is an extension of women’s traditional role in the home and is not work), submissiveness, suited to simple repetitive tasks, are sources of cheap and flexible type of labor; and
- influence of informal social networks that facilitate, sustain and perpetuate the demand abroad.
Most women move abroad voluntarily but a significant number are forced migrants who have fled conflicts, persecution, environmental degradation, natural disasters and other situations that affect their habitats and livelihoods. Others have been trafficked into sexual exploitation and forced labor.