This research paper examines Nicaraguan migrant women’s engagement with transnational social protection (TSP) in Spain and Nicaragua. Although in recent years TSP has emerged as a relevant research agenda in migration studies, not much is known about the ways in which migrants, particularly women, navigate welfare systems and mobilize resources to access and provide social protection across borders. By approaching this study from a gender lens, and by privileging the voices of migrants, this work represents an innovative and original contribution to the growing scholarship on TSP. To grasp the transnational nature of ‘social protection on the move’, I have used a multi-sited methodology to conduct qualitative research Spain and Nicaragua, sequentially. Such a multi-sited approach provides an opportunity to understand the complex transborder processes in which migrants are embedded, and allows for a more holistic understanding of these transnational dynamics. Findings suggest that that Nicaraguan migrant women create assemblages of formal and informal social protection that intermingle state and non-state actors. Nonetheless, due to the exclusion or limited access to formal social protection schemes, participants mostly rely on informal sources of social protection, particularly personal networks and grassroots organizations. Furthermore, Nicaraguan migrant women’s experiences evidence that engagement with TSP is a gendered process, as strategies and practices embedded in social protection are shaped by gender notions in sending and host countries. As this paper evidences, migrants’ transnational lives require new ways of thinking and organizing social protection. Consequently, TSP will remain a relevant matter of contention in the fields of migration, social policy, and development in the foreseeable future. Based on these reflections, I finish by proposing policy recommendations for enhancing Nicaraguan migrant women’s social protection in Spain and Nicaragua, and for providing just, inclusive, and transformative social protection for people on the move.

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Keywords transnational migration, social protection, migrant women, migratory trajectories, gender, Nicaragua, Spain
Publisher International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)
Persistent URL
Series ISS Working Papers - General Series
Guharay Gómez, C.G. (2019). Social Protection on the Move: a transnational exploration of Nicaraguan migrant women’s engagement with social protection in Spain and Nicaragua (No. 648). ISS Working Papers - General Series. International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS). Retrieved from