Negotiating between Patriarchy and Emancipation: Rural-to-Urban Migrant Women in Albania


Çaro, Erka, Ajay Bailey, and Leo van Wissen. 2012. “Negotiating between Patriarchy and Emancipation: Rural-to-Urban Migrant Women in Albania.” Gender, Place & Culture 19 (4): 472–93. doi: 10.1080/0966369X.2011.610096.

Authors: Erka Caro, Ajay Bailey, Leo van Wissen


It is essential to explore the role of gender while analysing internal migration in Albania to account for the differing experiences of men and women. Quantitative studies suggest that Albanian internal migration is pioneered by men, with women merely acceding to their wishes. This article addresses the undervalued role of women in the academic discourse concerning migration in Albania. Utilizing ethnographic research techniques, it explores the role of women migrating from rural to urban areas as part of a larger household and examines the coping and negotiating strategies used for survival in the city. Our findings reveal that women actively participate in the rural-to-urban migration process, including the initial decision to migrate and the choice of destination. Women's narratives provide evidence of specific emancipation strategies through which they express themselves and their new ways of living. Women adjust to and challenge their new urban environment through gaining paid employment and expanding their social networks, as well as experience emancipation through daughters and by changing their appearance, achieving varying degrees of personal and social prosperity.

Keywords: emancipation, women, migration, rural-to-urban, Albania


Quotes and Notes:

According to Hugo (2000), when women move from rural to urban areas there is an increased potential for empowerment, as they are often separated from the extended family and can engage in paid employment outside the home. As a result of migration, women thus experience an increase in ‘autonomy, self confidence and agency’ (Ghosh 2009, 36). The benefits of migration can, however, vary for migrant women depending on their motivations, expectations, educational level, background characteristics, social status and the presence or otherwise of their husband in the household.” (473) 

Many societies, especially patriarchal ones, function according to social and cultural norms that determine the level of women’s participation in the migration process and the nature of gender relationships in the new settings (Ghosh 2009). To understand the social position of women in Albania and whether migration can influence this, it is essential to recognize that gender and migration are embedded in historical, regional and cultural settings, and that gender relationships in Albania are steeped in a strong patriarchal tradition.” (474)

Research Questions/Main Ideas:

“In this article, we argue that while international migration is determined by men, internal migration is often initiated by women and then conceived as a family project.” (473)

“Focusing on mothers and daughters within the context of emerging urbanization, this research aims to (1) explore the role of women in the migration process, (2) detail their emancipation strategies following migration and (3) compare the strategies and experiences of mothers and daughters.” (473)

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Migration, Gender, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Households Regions: Europe, Baltic states, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Albania

Year: 2012

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