Migration and work: are women’s work patterns changing in Bardiya, Nepal?

Anita Ghimire, Jessica Hagen-Zanker and Samjhana Bhujel

Type: Nepal, Theme 1: Livelihoods instability, Working Paper

Organisation: NISER, ODI

Country: Nepal

Date: 22/08/2019

Full summary

A large body of literature exists on the contribution of migration to poverty reduction in countries of origin. Most of this research focuses on how remittances and financial outcomes change lives back home. Yet, migration does more than lead to money to be sent back to family members. The migration of an adult household member means that the household has lost a worker. As a result, household composition, dynamics and division of labour are likely to change—but exactly how is often not known.


Bardiya district had the highest rate of migration among the three districts surveyed by the Secure Livelihoods
Research Consortium (SLRC) in 2013, 2015 and 2017. This study uses multiple methods to deepen an understanding of how outmigration of male family members affects the livelihoods and work patterns of female family members who are left behind in Bardiya, Nepal.


Main findings:

  • Women’s experience of men’s migration is not universally positive
  • In nuclear households, women’s unpaid workload increases and changes after the migration of their husbands
  • Women’s unpaid work in non-nuclear families does not change when men migrate
  • Migration does not change the kind of paid work women do or can get
  • Migration amplifies existing social structures
  • migration is not automatically the disrupter of livelihoods that it is often thought to be