Migration and gender in Bangladesh: An irregular landscape

This survey is part of a series of studies commissioned by the Work in Freedom Programme of the ILO in order to document the motives and trajectories of migrant women workers. The survey explores the local and regional gendered specificities of migration and work-seeking in selected localities of Bangladesh by collecting gender disaggregated data and analysing contrasting patterns that inform women and men’s migration.

This report presents the result of a survey conducted in five districts of Bangladesh to document international labour migration. The districts were selected for their contrasting features. Two districts, Barguna and Patuakhali, are relatively new to women’s migration, whereas three districts, Manikganj, Narayanganj and Brahmanbaria, have a long history of such movement. The extent of women’s participation in migration was a major criteria for the selection of districts aimed to capture a range of situations. In all, 8,437 migrant workers were recorded in 125 villages. The analysis brings out important consideration that challenge common assumptions on women’s migration. For example, the survey brings out hard evidence that questions policy assumptions that women migrate homogenously from around the country or that their cost of recruitment is high. In that sense, this survey’s findings have important implications on local, national and regional policy making related to safe migration, anti-trafficking and labour policies.