Protection or Discrimination? The Case of Nepal’s Policy Banning Female Migrant Workers

Part of the Sustainable Development Goals Series book series (SDGS)


Increasing numbers of female labour migrants are independently going abroad for work, which offers them new economic opportunities but also exposes them to risks. These international movements are often preceded by rural–urban migration, which brings its own challenges for female migrants. The feminization of international labour migration is a global trend today, especially evident in Asia and governments have introduced different laws and policies to ensure safer migration. This chapter introduces a policy that has been adopted by several Asian countries which bans female migrant workers from going to certain countries with the rationale of protecting them from possible harm and abuse. The chapter uses the case of Nepal to argue that governments use this policy despite knowing its lack of effectiveness in protecting women from abuse because it provides a short-term solution, allows for blame avoidance and because of their own limitation to influence another country’s laws to protect their migrant workers.


Gender Migration Female migrant workers Migration ban Nepal 


  1. Adhikari J, Gurung G (2013) An overview of migration in Nepal: trends and issues’. In: Gurung G (ed) Migration from Nepal: policy and reality. Heidel Press Pvt. Ltd., Kathmandu, pp 33–45Google Scholar
  2. Asis M, Huang S, Yeoh B (2004) When the light of the home is abroad: unskilled female migration and the filipino family. Singap J Trop Geogr 25(2):198–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bansak C, Chezum B (2009) how do remittances affect human capital formation of school-age boys and girls? Am Econ Rev 99(2):145–148. Scholar
  4. Basok T, Piper N (2012) Management versus rights: women’s migration and global governance in Latin America and the caribbean. Fem Econ 18(2):35–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beall J (1996) Urban governance: why gender matters. UNDP, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Betts A (2012) Global migration governance. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  7. Bohra P, Massey DS (2009) Processes of internal and international migration from Chitwan, Nepal. Int Migr Rev 43(3):621–651. Scholar
  8. Brydon L, Chant S (1989) Women in the third world, gender issues in rural and urban areas. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, Hants, EnglandGoogle Scholar
  9. Central Bureau of Statistics (2011) Preliminary report—2011.
  10. Chan C (2014) Gendered morality and development narratives: the case of female labour migration from Indonesia. Sustainability 6(10):6949–6972CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chant S (1992) Gender and migration in developing countries. BellhavenGoogle Scholar
  12. Chant S (2007a) Gender, cities and the millennium development goals in the global south. In: New series working paper, Issue 21. LSE Gender Institute London. (
  13. Chant S (ed) (2007b) Gender, generation and poverty: exploring the ‘feminisation of poverty’ in Africa. Asia and Latin America, ElgarGoogle Scholar
  14. Chant S (2013) Cities through a “gender lens”: a golden, “urban age” for women in the global south? Environ Urban 25(1):9–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chant S, Beetham G (2015) Routledge major works on gender, poverty and development, vols 1-IV. RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  16. Chant S, McIIwaine C (1995) Women of a lesser cost: female labour. Foreign Exchange and Philippine Development, PlutoGoogle Scholar
  17. Chant S, McIIwaine C (2009) Geographies of development in the 21st century. ElgarGoogle Scholar
  18. de Haas H (2010) Migration and development: a theoretical perspective. Int Migrat Rev 44(1):227–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Faist T, Kivisto P, Fauser M (ed) (2011) The migration-development nexus: a transnational perspective, 1 edn. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. GAATW (2017) Position paper by GAATW on the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migrationGoogle Scholar
  21. Ghosh B (2007) Managing migration: whither the missing regime? how relevant is trade law to such a regime? Proc Annu Meet (Am Soc Int Law) 101:303–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Grossman-Thompson B (2016) Protection and paternalism: narratives of Nepali women migrants and the gender politics of discriminatory labour migration policy. Refuge 32(3):4–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gurung M (2013) Measures to ensuring women’s safer migration. In: Gurung G (ed) Migration from Nepal: policy and reality. Heidel Press Pvt. Ltd, KathmanduGoogle Scholar
  24. Gurung G (2015) Chair, Nepal Institute of Development Studies (NIDS)Google Scholar
  25. Gurung G, Adhikari J (2004) Nepal: the prospects and problems of foreign labour migration. In: Ahn PS (ed) Migrant workers and human rights: out-migration from South Asia. New Delhi, Geneva, International Labour OfficeGoogle Scholar
  26. Hollifield JF (2009) Regulating migration in an era of globalization: a public good approach. Presented in Global Mobility Regimes ConferenceGoogle Scholar
  27. Howlett M, Shivakoti R (2018) Improving international policy-making in the absence of treaty regimes: the international forestry, migration and water policy cases. Int J Public Policy 14(5/6):303. Scholar
  28. Hugo G (2005) The new international migration in Asia. Asian Popul Stud 1(1):93–120. Scholar
  29. ILO (2015) No easy exit—migration bans affecting women from Nepal. International Labour Office, pp. 1–54Google Scholar
  30. KNOMAD (2016) Migration and remittances factbook 2016. KNOMAD, World BankGoogle Scholar
  31. Krasner SD (1983) International regimes. Cornell University PressGoogle Scholar
  32. Lokshin M, Glinskaya E (2009) The effect of male migration on employment patterns of women in Nepal. Maiti Nepal (2015)
  33. Manandhar B (2016) Remittance and earthquake preparedness. Int J Disaster Risk Reduct 15:52–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Maor M (2016) ‘policy overreaction doctrine: from ideal-type to context-specific solution in times of crisis. In: Handbook of policy formulation. Edward ElgarGoogle Scholar
  35. Martin SF (2015) International migration and global governance. Global Summ 1(1):64–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Martin P, Abella M, Kuptsch C (2006) Managing labour migration in the twenty-first century. Yale University Press, YaleCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mendoza M (2016) At rising rate, Nepalis working abroad go home in coffins. Associated Press.
  38. Ministry of Labour and Employment (2015) Labour migration for employment: a status report for Nepal: 2014/15. Nepal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Labour and Employment (2015)Google Scholar
  39. Ministry of Labour and Employment (2017) Labour migration for employment: a status report for Nepal: 2015/16–2016/17. KathmanduGoogle Scholar
  40. Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (2015)Google Scholar
  41. Morales FG (2018) UN expert calls for better protection against abuse and exploitation for Nepali workers seeking foreign employment. UN OHCHR.
  42. MyRepublica (2017) House panel to govt: stop women domestics from going to Gulf.
  43. Nepal Rastra Bank (2017) Current macroeconomic situation-monthly updates.
  44. Oishi N (2005) Women in motion: globalization, state policies, and labour migration in Asia. Stanford University PressGoogle Scholar
  45. Pande A (2014) I prefer to go back the day before tomorrow, but I cannot: paternalistic migration policies and the global exile. Crit Soc Policy 34(3):374–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pandey UR (2013) ‘Role of diplomatic missions in Gulf regions to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’, in migration from Nepal: policy and reality. Heidel Press Pvt. Ltd, KathmanduGoogle Scholar
  47. Paoletti S, Taylor-Nicholson E, Sijapati B, Farbenblum B (2014) Migrant workers’ access to justice at home: Nepal. Open Society Foundations, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  48. Paudel M (2013) Situation of Nepalese women migrants in Kuwait and suggested measures for future. In: Gurung G (ed) Migration from Nepal: policy and reality. Heidel Press Pvt, LtdGoogle Scholar
  49. Ratha D, Mohapatra S, Silwal A (2010) Migration and remittances factbook 2011, 2nd edn. World Bank Publications, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  50. Ratha D, De S, Schuettler K, Shaw W, Wyss H, Yi S (2016) Migration and remittances: recent developments and outlook (Migration and Development Brief 26)Google Scholar
  51. Regmi G (2015) Akhil Nepal trade union federation, revolutionary (ANTUF)Google Scholar
  52. Rimal B (2015) President, general federation of Nepalese trade unions (GEFONT)Google Scholar
  53. Sakdapolrak P (2002) Protection of women migrant workers: policies of selected sending and receiving countriesGoogle Scholar
  54. Shiwakoti B (2015) Labour secretary, ministry of labour and employment.Google Scholar
  55. Shrestha M, Basu M (2012) Nepal bans women under 30 from working in Gulf states. CNN.
  56. Sijapati B (2015) Centre for the study of labour and mobilityGoogle Scholar
  57. Sijapati B, Limbu A (2012) Governing labour migration in nepal: an analysis of existing policies and institutional mechanisms. Himal BooksGoogle Scholar
  58. Stark O, Bloom DE (1985) The new economics of labour migration. Am Econ Rev 75(2):173–178Google Scholar
  59. UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (2012) Migration and human rights: improving human rights-based governance of international migrationGoogle Scholar
  60. UN Women (2013) Contributions of migrant domestic workers to sustainable development. Policy paper for the pre-GFMD VI high-level regional meeting on migrant domestic workers at the interface of migration and development. UN WomenGoogle Scholar
  61. UN Women (2017) Recommendations for addressing women’s human rights in the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration: outcome of expert meeting in Geneva, Nov 2016. UN Women, Geneva, April, 2015Google Scholar
  62. Wagle U (2012) Socioeconomic implications of the increasing foreign remittance to nepal: evidence from the nepali living standard survey. Int Migr 50(4):186–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wilson WJ (2011) When work disappears: the world of the new urban poor. VintageGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Officer, Carleton UniversityOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations