"Women Will Keep the Household"

Author: Pilapa Esara

Abstract:

The transition into married life for rural-urban female migrants in Bangkok impacts their gender identities in unexpected ways. This article uses the experiences of a married migrant woman as a case study to explore and discuss how migrant women mediate the loss of autonomy and the added familial expectations that arise from this transition. The author suggests that given their prior migration experiences as independent income-earners women in this particular community enter marriage with broadened gender identities that fracture under marital gender norms. This places significance and value solely upon their nonpaid homemaking duties. The double burden of work inside and outside the home expands the roles of migrant women as wives and mothers, but at the same time it reinforces existing inequities within the conjugal relationship. Nonetheless, migrant women continue to actively participate in the construction of their conjugal contract and in decision-making within their households. In sum, this case study illustrates how conflicting desires, gender role norms, and particular migration situations are meaningfully mediated by women and how this negotiation affects decision-making regarding family organization and future mobility intentions.


Countries: Thailand

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June 2004
© 1999 ILO/Deloche P.