Migration Theories Versus Remittance Behaviour of Migrant Women in Kenya

Wanjiru Gichuhi, Alexander Mukungu Nasiyo


The linkages between development and migration have received increasing attention by international institutions and donor agencies alike. With approximately half of all migrants being women, the impact of financial and social remittances is presumably mediated by gender relations. Interestingly, women‟s socio-economic contributions and unique experiences have not been given the prominence they deserve, especially in migration and remittance studies. Women have always been present in migratory flows, traditionally as spouses, daughters and dependents of male migrants.However, in the most recent decades there has been an increase in women's autonomous migratory behaviour.Notwithstanding other factors such as the migrants‟ marital and migration status, it has been argued that gender affects the volume of remittances, with women sending back home more than men do. Given the fact that migration has reached beyond national boundaries, the significance of remittances as a key driver of national development, especially in developing countries such as Kenya, cannot be ignored. This paper will attempt to make a theoretical case that, even though no substantive data may exist, current thinking is
that migrant women are potential agents of development via pecuniary remittances. They do not only send remittances but also return to their country of origin with newly acquired skills and valuable knowledge. Indeed, previous studies have established that Kenya and Nigeria are among the leading countries in sending money through wire services. But most studies on remittance do not take a gender approach and have not questioned the decision-making processes involved in remittance behaviour. The migrant women‟s remittance behaviour in Kenya will be reviewed based on a broader social development perspective as it relates to issues of education, health, social welfare and political participation.Gendered aspects of remittances will also be approached from the senders‟ as well as recipients‟ perspective. The theoretical findings will contribute towards building knowledge in women‟s experiences as potential agents of change and development as well as in the shaping of feminist perspective in remittance studies in Africa.

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