Patriarchal Husbands at the Interface between Local and Global: Changing Gender Roles of Married Men and Women Due to Women’s Migration to Middle Eastern Countries in a Peasant Colonization Scheme in Sri Lanka

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International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) | Volume IV, Issue VI, June 2020 | ISSN 2454–6186

Patriarchal Husbands at the Interface between Local and Global: Changing Gender Roles of Married Men and Women Due to Women’s Migration to Middle Eastern Countries in a Peasant Colonization Scheme in Sri Lanka

Fazeeha Azmi
Department of Geography, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

IJRISS Call for paper

Abstract— In many patriarchal societies roles of married men and women are held in high esteems. However, in the context of increasing social and economic changes occurring at both local and global levels they cannot live up to the expectation of such societies. Married women are forced to take up breadwinner roles in many families, mainly due to poverty, unemployment, underemployment, low productivity and inadequate income in the agricultural sector along with the changing conceptualizations of individuals perceived wellbeing. Women’s economic contribution has become critical to the survival and wellbeing of many families. At the same time, opportunities for women’s economic participation are not always restricted to local spheres. It has expanded to global spheres too. In this perspective international migration is an important livelihood, option which mainly decided by global forces along with the local situation. In terms of international migration, Middle Eastern countries have been providing employment opportunities for men and women from their neighbouring countries for more than three decades. Dominated by female migrants, this livelihood option has gained much attention in terms of its social and economic impacts. Based on in depth interviews and focus group discussions, in three types of settlement in a peasant colonization scheme in Sri Lanka this article finds, that due to Middle East migration traditional gender roles of married men and women are undergoing considerable changes in these settlements. This article discusses why women migrate, how their husbands face the new role, how the changing gender roles are viewed by the society and the men whose wives have migrated. Focus group discussions conducted in the settlements identified a complex mix of views regarding the changing gender roles, with considerable difference in terms of age. In depth interviews revealed men are caught in multiple traps, where they could not claim whether they have achieved or empowered. They are confused and uncertain about their new gender roles.

Keywords—Gender roles, Men, Women, Migration, AMDP

I. INTRODUCTION

During the last three decades, development research has made Mahaweli women and their living conditions increasingly visible. Researchers have widely focused on the disadvantaged positions of women living in AMDP, especially in terms of land title, gender, participation and health. However, a focus on men, especially about their changing gender roles due to the socio economic changes occurring at local and global levels has overlooked. Information gathered through focus group discussions and in depth interviews in the System H of the AMDP this research aimed at unravelling the changing gender roles of married men, whose wives have migrated to the Middle Eastern countries in order to alleviate their family poverty.