The (re)productive work of labour migration: the reproductive lives of women with an absent spouse in the central hill region of Nepal

Zoé Mistrale Hendrickson, Jill Owczarzak, Sandhya Lohani, Bibhu Thapaliya Shrestha, Carol R. Underwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Limited attention has been given to the effects of labour migration on the reproductive lives of women ‘left behind’ as their partners travel for work. Drawing on two rounds of qualitative interviews with 20 women in the central hill region of Nepal, this paper examines how global economic processes that lead Nepali men to travel for work also affect women’s reproductive work, including childrearing and reproductive decision-making. Women understood their husband’s migration to engage in the wage economy as a response to both immediate and long-term goals for their children and family. As a result, such productive work was intrinsically linked to reproductive work. Men’s migration patterns played a pivotal role in reinforcing women’s immediate childrearing roles and affecting whether and when women used a contraceptive method and what methods they considered. During periods of spousal migration, women’s reproductive lives became targets of gossip and rumours as their intimate and reproductive practices and use of remittances were socially monitored. This complex understanding of women’s lived experiences at the nexus of (re)productive work and labour migration can be practically applied to address the reproductive health needs of women with migrant spouses in Nepal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)684-700
Number of pages17
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Volume21
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 3 2019

Keywords

  • Nepal
  • family planning
  • labour migration
  • reproductive work
  • women ‘left behind’

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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