Centre for Development Practice and Research, Patna

TISS Patna Lecture Series on Migration, Lecture 15


Date and time: March 30, 2019 11:00AM - 12:30PM

Venue: Sabhagar, College of Commerce, Arts and Science, Kankar Bagh Main Road, Patna

Gender and Migration in India: The Story So Far

by Indrani Majumdar


Women’s labour migration in India – it’s past and present, is poorly understood in migration studies. Macro-data, which focuses on population movements rather than labour migration, routinely shows that women constitute the overwhelming majority of migrants in India. According to the last NSS survey of migration (2007-08), women constituted 80 per cent of migrants in India (migrants defined by change of usual place of residence). Census 2011 placed women’s share at 69 per cent. Such a high share is of course primarily because of the prevalence of village exogamy, which leads to the majority of married women, particularly in rural areas, being counted as migrants. As far as migration for work is concerned, an overwhelming male bias is prominent because of which the specific features of female labour migration has remained largely outside development debates.

In such a context, a long term research engagement at the Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS) with migration at macro, meso and micro levels, has several insights to offer. The lecture/presentation draws on this research to analyse women’s migration at the following levels:

1. The paradox of falling female work participation rates and rising migration rates, and a critical  engagement with the definitions and approaches to macro data based analysis.

2. The weight, scale, and implications of temporary migration, its systemic underpinnings in the political economy of development, its gender dimensions and implications.

3. The question of unfree mobility, and tribal and dalit concentrations in unfree labour migration.

4. The implications of migration constructed male bias in urban labour markets for women’s employment.

5. A critical appraisal of developing policy paradigms in relation to migration with reference to labour laws and policy, skill development programmes, and anti-trafficking initiatives.


About the Speaker

Indrani Mazumdar is Associate Professor, Centre for Women's Development Studies, Delhi, an autonomous research institute supported by the Indian Council of Social Science Research. Trained as a historian, her research interest are in labour employment development, women’s studies, gender studies, and migration. She has worked and published extensively in these areas in the form of monographs, articles, and reports. Her recent works include: ‘Making Sense of the Wilderness: Policy Flux, Misdirection and the Unfreedoms of Women Migrant Workers in India’ Third World Quarterly (forthcoming); “Gender, Labour and Women’s Work: Issues, Experiences and Debates in India” in Takako Inoue et al (eds.) Social Transformation and Cultural Change in South Asia: From the Perspectives of the Socio-Economic Periphery; ‘Adivasi Women in India’s Migration Story’, in S. Irudaya Rajan (ed), India Migration Report 2015: Gender and migration, Routledge India, ‘Unfree Mobility’ in Meena Radhakrishna (ed) First Citizens: Studies on Adivasis, Tribals, and Indigenous Peoples in India, and Women Workers and Globalization: Emergent Contradictions in India, Stree, Kolkata, 2007