Regional Migration Governance in the Southern African Development Community: Gender-Neutral, Gender-Blind or Gender-Biased?

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 Last revised: 3 Jul 2013

Belinda Dodson

University of Western Ontario

Date Written: April 12, 2013

Abstract

Growing attention is being paid to the role and potential of regional institutions in the governance of migration and protection of migrant rights. Southern Africa presents an illustrative example of the multiple challenges to regional migration governance, being a region of uneven governance capacity and rights regimes and weak regional institutions. Although there has been some move towards regional harmonization of migration laws, policies and management in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), formal migration governance remains entrenched in national laws and structures or, at best, bilateral agreements, specifically on migrant labor. Meanwhile, migrants have difficulty securing even those basic social services and human rights protections to which they are legally entitled. This is especially the case for female migrants, most of whom work in the informal sector outside formal mechanisms of regulation and protection. This paper examines regional migration governance in SADC from a gender perspective, including the implications of a developmentalist rather than rights-based framing of regional migration policy discourse. It draws on empirical findings from research on gender and cross-border migration to assess whether superficially gender-neutral regional policy and discourse on migration is likely to have unequal gender outcomes in terms of migrants’ rights and livelihoods.

Suggested Citation

Dodson, Belinda, Regional Migration Governance in the Southern African Development Community: Gender-Neutral, Gender-Blind or Gender-Biased? (April 12, 2013). ASA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2250177

Belinda Dodson (Contact Author)

University of Western Ontario ( email )

1151 Richmond Street
Suite 2
London, Ontario N6A 5B8
Canada

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