Introduction. In his 1987 publication The New Helots: Migrants in the international division of labour Cohen boldly states that migration scholars should be concerned ‘with men and women, [but] typically men, who are crossing a recognised political or administrative frontier for the purpose of selling their labour power’ (my emphasis Cohen 1987: 33). The notion of ‘feminization of migration’ challenged this assertion based on the empirical observation of an increasing share of female migrant workers. Whilst these statistics played a powerful role in problematising the dominant image of the migrant worker as the adult male breadwinner, the real contribution of feminist critiques to migration studies was its relational contribution; demonstrating that migration (as well as the international division of labour Cohen refers to) is a highly gendered process which complexity cannot be reduced to statistics alone.

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Note Paper written for: Workshop on Householding in Transition: Emerging Dynamics in ‘Developing’ East and Southeast Asia, 25–26 July 2011
Huijsmans, R.B.C. (2011). Unpacking the Gender Paradox in Lao Households’ Migration Decision-making Processes. ISS Staff Group 4: Rural Development, Environment and Population. Retrieved from