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Female Migration in Lesotho: Determinants and Opportunities

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Document pages: 74 pages

Abstract: Migration, internal and external, continues to be a dominant livelihood strategy for households in Lesotho, with almost half (43 percent) of households reporting at least one member living away. The past decade has seen a sharp increase in female migration, due to a halt in new hires of Basotho men in South African mines and a concomitant expansion of jobs primarily for women in the export garment sector in Maseru and Maputsoe. This study analyzes female migration using three waves of the Demographic and Health Survey (2004, 2009, and 2014) as well as primary data collected by the research team in March-April 2015. The findings indicate that female migration in Lesotho is primarily driven by economic "push " (rather than "pull " ) factors, often due to shocks to the household, such as job loss, death, or bad crops. Migrants are often seen as "strugglers " and their households of origin are just as poor as rural households with no migrants. Moreover, the study finds conclusive evidence that women s employment in sectors dominated by migrants is strongly correlated with HIV AIDS: 55 percent of women working in garment factories and 38 percent of domestic workers are HIV positive, as opposed to the national average of 30 percent. These findings point to three policy recommendations to support female migrants and their families: (i) lower the barriers to secondary education in rural areas, (ii) diversify and expand employment opportunities for men and women, and (iii) provide HIV AIDS prevention and treatment services to garment factory workers as well as migrants working in the informal sector.

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