Women foreign workers growing in importance in the Middle East, Western Union-sponsored research paper finds
Women foreign workers growing in importance in the Middle East, Western Union-sponsored research paper finds

DUBAI, UAE – June, 2nd, 2013 – Labor migration has led to an increase in the independence of women and their influence over household decisions, but more could be done to harness the positive impact these women have, according to a research paper sponsored by The Western Union Company released today.

The paper, ‘Women Migrants, Remittances and Their Impact in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region', was authored by Dr. Ismail Hakki Genc, Professor of Economics, and Dr. George Naufal, Assistant Professor of Economics, at the American University of Sharjah. It examined macroeconomic indicators and available research on women workers in the Middle East as well as in other regions.

“At Western Union, we have seen that the empowerment of women is an important driver in improving the welfare of families and communities around the world, both in places abroad where they work and in their home countries,” Said Sobia Rahman, Western Union's Regional Vice President for Gulf, Pakistan & Afghanistan Western Union, said. “The research paper released today shows that in the Middle East, in particular, there is great potential to unlock the positive impact that women can play.”

The paper found that women have become increasingly independent when it comes to financial matters, both in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states where they have gone to work and in their home countries when their husbands work overseas.

Women foreign workers growing in importance in the Middle East, Western Union-sponsored research paper finds

Key findings:

  • Women are more reliable than men when remitting funds to their families back home. In 2008 we found that in 12 months, the mean remittances of female expatriate workers in Dubai were almost AED 2,000 more than the remittances of male expatriates.   
  • Women tend to allocate more resources to support family living expenses and human capital, compared with their male counterparts, who tend to focus on building physical capital.
  • Women are also more likely to act as a safety net for their family back home during emergencies and bad economic times. Some 52 per cent of female expatriates in Dubai allocate a portion of their overall remittances for such eventualities, compared with just 5 percent of all expatriate workers.

Dr. Genc said: “Women's spending and remittance habits are skewed toward the build-up of human capital, one of the most effective means of driving economic development.”

Recommendations

The report highlighted that many women are employed in unskilled jobs incommensurate with their education levels. For example, almost 60 per cent of female expatriate workers in Dubai hold a university degree or higher graduate degree. This suggests that highly educated women should be supported by their home and host countries to reach their full potential, the report said.

Women foreign workers growing in importance in the Middle East, Western Union-sponsored research paper finds

Some 78 per cent of female expatriate remitters in Dubai send money home to the older generations of their families. This suggests that host country policies that unite families would have a significant impact on women and stem the outflow of remittances from the GCC.

The authors also recommended that women be given more of a voice in family financial decisions by having more access to family resources. Moreover, the role that female migrants play in promoting economic development in their countries of origin should be recognized and policies put in place in their home countries to promote this.

“Well-designed policies – which could include support groups, as well as opportunities and facilities for expatriates to observe cultural traditions and celebrations – would attract workers, raise the status of the host country and increase global economic efficiency by reducing unemployment,” Dr. Naufal said. “Through these measures, the positive impact of expatriate women in both their home and host countries would increase significantly”.

Western Union launches Facebook campaign

In conjunction with the release of the research paper, Western Union is inviting expatriate women to share their stories of success in their host countries while supporting their families. Entries will be accepted on the Women Icons Facebook page, and vocational training courses will be awarded to the authors of the top three stories.

Women foreign workers growing in importance in the Middle East, Western Union-sponsored research paper finds

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of December 31 2012, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of approximately 510,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2012, The Western Union Company completed 231 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $79 billion of principal between consumers, and 432 million business payments. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com.

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Posted on : Sunday, June 2, 2013  6:06:00 PM UAE local time (GMT+4)
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