Migration as a Disaster Recovery Strategy in Post-Earthquake Nepal: Challenges and Vulnerabilities for Young Women Migrants

November 2016 (VOL. 34, NO. 3)

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Foreign labor migration has been an historically common livelihood strategy for young Nepali men. Increasingly, young women have migrated abroad for work as well in spite of a number of gender discriminatory migration laws that limit women’s access to legal labor migration channels. To what extent out-migration will be employed by women as a livelihood strategy in the post-earthquake context remains to be seen. This paper focuses specifically on young women’s migration decision-making in the immediate aftermath of the 2015 April/May earthquakes. Using survey data collected from two districts in July 2015 – one severely earthquake-affected district and one less-affected district – the research is guided by a vulnerabilities approach to disasters. This paper considers how the April/May earthquakes have affected young women migrants’ decision-making processes around future migration as a livelihood strategy and how the earthquake may have a synergistic affect with existing gender discriminatory migration and citizenship laws and local systems of social stratification to exacerbate and multiply women labor migrants’ vulnerabilities.