The impact of migration: Women's voices from Mexican migrant communities
Tokarsky-Unda, Louise Elizabeth
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The purpose of this research is to understand how U.S.-Mexican labor migration impacts the lives of Mexican women. Research methods include participant observation and informal interviews in a migrant sending community in Michoacan, Mexico, and formal taped interviews with migrant workers in Niagara County, New York, and Cumberland County, New Jersey. Findings indicate that women whose family members migrate fit into three categories: those who benefit little from the migration of their husbands, those who experience negative economic and social repercussions from their husbands' migration, and those who benefit both economically, and in terms of increased gender equality. Most women do not benefit from the migration of male family members and fear abandonment, but community members stigmatize migrant women who have returned to their communities for participating in what they perceive as male activities. Women migrants come to the United States primarily to ensure their husbands do not abandon them, and to provide their children with more educational opportunities. This research suggests that women and couples who migrate are more likely to invest their earnings towards their children's education and basic needs than men who leave their families at home when they migrate. This research also suggests that migration transforms women's gender roles and identities, on both sides of the border.