Compared to the 1990s, more Indian women are now migrating to the Gulf countries looking for better work opportunities and monetary benefits.
According to a first of its kind report on Migration of Women Workers from South Asia to the Gul jointly released by UN Women and the VV Giri National Labour Institute, in 2010 India sent the third largest number of female migrants (48.7%) to the Gulf after Nepal (68.2%) and Sri Lanka(49.8%). Among the Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia received the highest proportion of Indian migrant workers in 2010.
A majority of the unskilled women workers from India to Gulf go from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
Overall, women comprised half — 49.6% — of the 190 million migrant workers from South Asia. Most of these women migrate alone and work as domestic workers, the report said.
"The impact of the migration of women workers is much broader than its immediate economic aspect. There is great potential of such migration to bring forth the social and political empowerment of women, and reshape gender power relations," SK Sasikumar of VV Giri National Institute said.
According to a 2011 World Bank report, India was one of the largest recipients of remittances in the world accounting for $55 billion in 2010.
Though the increase in women migrant has a positive effect, the report said in the absence of proper information and gender sensitive migration policy, women migrants continue to be exploited.
"The kafala or a sponsorship system between the employer and employee is the mode of labour recruitment ... Work relationships in those countries are very individualised, and make women workers highly dependent on their employer, and thus often socially invisible," the report said.