I began my research by asking, ‘How can we understand the interrelation between gender and migration in Albania?’. As my research progressed, three other questions emerged, which necessitated, first, investigating the tactics migrant women used during migration; second, identifying their migratory trajectories; and finally, understanding their experiences in the city of Tirana. To answer these questions, I conducted interviews with thirty-two migrant women involved in internal or multiple migratory trajectories who were all living in Tirana at the time when I conducted my fieldwork.

Using a feminist perspective, my research aimed to analyse and highlight some aspects of these migrant women’s experiences to help better understand how gender and migration are entangled in Albania. The sample is separated into four groups: women who migrated only internally, female students who migrated internally on their own, women who migrated internationally for purposes other than education and female students who migrated internationally on their own. I opted for this separation to avoid homogenising Albanian female migrants, to highlight the particularities of each group’s experiences and to reveal what these specific experiences can tell us about the social processes related to migration and gender. I begin the introductory section of this chapter by laying out three overall findings of my research, before turning to the two core findings of the study. The particular insights emanating from these two core findings are detailed in the next five sections.

Quantitative analysis on Albanian migration has revealed its significant scale but also contributed to forging a masculinised image of international migration and a feminised image of internal migration. During the 1990s, male international migrants certainly outnumbered female ones. Nevertheless, women, too, were present in significant numbers in this migration phase, and not only as passive migrants leaving Albania for the purpose of family reunification. The examples in this book add to this line of research by shedding light on women’s migratory experiences that often remain hidden in statistical research. These examples underpin the first overall finding: migrant women in Albania have been participating in international migration since the early 1990s, often crossing borders in the same risky ways typically associated only with men.

I premised my analysis on the gender and migration theoretical stream that rejects the characterization of migration as a single move from the sending country to the receiving country in favour of approaching it as a gendered process involving a multiplicity of movements. My analysis indeed captures a broader picture of the intersection of gender and migration in Albania that challenges the mainstream view that female migration is entirely internal in nature. In fact, the second overall finding of this study is that migrant women in Albania engage in multiple migration trajectories combining internal, international, return and circular migration.

This book repeatedly shows that migration is a complex process involving numerous decisions that cannot all be explained by a single motivation. Furthermore, these motivations are gendered, as the examples presented here illustrate, which brings us to the third overall finding: women do not migrate solely for economic and educational purposes but also to escape from the gender constraints and the patriarchal practices and customs prevailing in their villages and cities of origin.

Answering the main question raised at the beginning of this research required me to conduct an in-depth investigation of these female migrants’ experiences. This book is situated within the research stream that highlights the complexities of the interrelation between gender and migration. Migration can challenge and transform but also reinforce gender equalities; it might lead to new opportunities and liberation or to new forms of gender inequalities and precarity. Now, at the conclusion of this research, my analysis clearly reveals the complex interplay between gender and migration as evidenced by the fact that Albanian migrant women do not automatically move from inequality to liberation. Instead, per the first core finding, the results of the study show that migrant women encounter various gender constraints and inequalities that might be different from those in their places of origin but stem from the same underlying mechanism of unequal gender relations. Women, however, do not passively go through the migration process but mobilise their available resources and manifest agency in various forms, primarily through the tactics they employ. The concept of tactics, or the weapons of the weak (Scott 1985) who operate within the prevailing systems and cannot effect significant change in the dominant relations, gives a nuanced understanding of these women’s manifestations of agency and processes of empowerment across their migration journeys. This brings us to the second (and complementary) core finding of the study: these migrant women manifest their empowerment not by tearing down deeply rooted gender relations and constructed gender roles but by deploying their agency and resources within the existing gendered power relations.

The following section expands on these two main findings, elaborating on how they contribute to the existing body of literature on gender and migration. More specifically, the key results presented therein explore the case of female student migrants, the role of social networks, the experiences of return migration, the complexity of care chains, and Tirana’s role as a locus of the interplay between gender and migration.

8.1 Key Results

8.1.1 The Complex Relationship Between Gender, Migration and Education

The study of student migration, particularly internal migration, from a gender perspective remains a domain open to further development. One of the aims of this book is to address this lacuna in the areas of both internal and international migration by exploring the experiences of Albanian female students who are internal and return migrants. At the international level, the number of female migrant students is growing and often exceeding that of male students, as is the case in East Asia (Kim 2012, 31). This trend has emerged in Albania, too, both internally and internationally. By focusing on individual experiences at the intersection of gender and migration rather than simply numbers, this analysis shows that young women in Albania use education for a dual purpose: to cross physical internal and international borders and to break through the social barriers that obstruct the migration of young women migrating on their own. Albanian families, independent of parents’ education level, place significant value on education, largely due to the emphasis and work that the communist regime put on education. At the same time, I saw that kinship and communities do not widely accept migration by women on their own. However, Vullnetari (2009) and Kalaja (2014) argue that kins and hometown communities gossip less about and are more likely to accept young women who migrate on their own for educational purposes.

Education, therefore, becomes a gendered value used by young women to leave their hometowns in a way that is considered more socially acceptable. Moreover, for international student migrants, education provides a way to cross borders in legal, safe ways, endowed with appropriate visas and, often, the financial support of scholarships.

Given the significant, socially-accepted value of education, these student migrants sometimes rely heavily on financial and other forms of support from their parents. And non-financial support can take many forms. The cases show that, for instance, parents mobilise to protect their daughters from family and community gossip that attacks them for having migrated alone. A second major form of support is the parents’ decision to take on their daughters’ caregiving responsibilities, thereby enabling them to migrate.

Adding to the international literature on gender and student migration (Ichimoto 2004; Matsui 1995; Kim 2012), and particularly contributing to that on Albanian migration, this analysis highlights the fact that for female students, both internal and international migration offer an escape from the gender constraints of their hometowns. Migrating to Tirana or abroad also means fleeing from the social control and the roles and norms applied to young women that remain entrenched in their places of origin. Migration enables them to seek a freer, more independent way of life.

In this context, a new question emerges: what do these young women find in their destinations? Are they free from the gender constraints they sought to escape? This brings us to a third related finding: the paradoxical situation of student migrants. The results show that, in their destination cities, female student migrants are granted an anonymity that stands in direct contrast to the social control experienced in their places of origin, but they also encounter new gendered prejudices and constraints. In Chap. 6, we see how student migrants in Tirana face prejudice, stigmatisation, and even sexual harassment – especially in the workplace – as young women who migrate and live alone. To cope with these new constraints, young women mobilise their resources and capital.

More significantly, these cases provide new insights into the complexities of the relationship between gender and migration, as migrant women juggle various gender constraints throughout their migration process. As highlighted in the second core finding of this study, the complex relationship between gender and migration manifests itself, not in the form of women breaking down the deeply rooted gender relations that constrain them, but by these young women using the available resources to achieve their objectives within the existing gendered relations.

However, it is worth considering a little more how these student migrants transgress socially accepted gender expectations, as illustrated by the tactics young women employ to postpone marriage and motherhood. They see marriage as a loss of independence and a threat to their professional development, burdening them with care and housework. This dissertation is based on interviews conducted in 2012, and it is impossible to know the participants’ future views on marriage. Nevertheless, the analysis shows that these women engage in numerous negotiations and tactics to postpone marriage, which continues to be the hegemonic form of family formation in Albania (Danaj et al., 2005; Lerch, 2009). Interestingly, these tactics include using the father’s role as the head of the household to escape the gendered requirement of marriage. Here, the logic of not fully disturbing the unequal gender roles persists. To postpone marriage, these young women use the same unequal gender roles they want to transgress.

8.1.2 The Dynamics of Social Networks

Another noteworthy aspect of the intersection between gender and the migration process is the role of social relations and networks. These social relations and networks are crucial to understanding the patterns of migration, settlement, employment and links with home the women interviewed for this research describe. When it comes to Albanian internal and international migration, they present key factors that play a role in determining migration decisions, selecting a destination, and organising the migration project. Unsurprisingly, my research results show that pre-existing networks often appear to make both internal and international migration a feasible option. Various existing social relations and networks are mobilised to accomplish the migration project and to figure out the logistics of crossing internal and international borders and securing accommodations, employment, and dealing with a number of other challenges.

Let us focus our attention on the further insights this study offers into the dynamic nature of social networks and the establishment of new ties once one reaches their destination. Regarding the dynamics of social networks throughout the migration process, the findings evidence Albanian migrant women’s ability to extensively use their resources to establish new ties and networks in order to adapt to unfamiliar social realities. These results add to the existing literature (e.g., Boyd 1989; Hagan 1998; Schmoll 2006; Ryan 2007; Dahinden 2010) on the dynamics of social networks during the migration process by highlighting new gendered configurations of the role of these networks. Such studies reveal that gender plays a critical role in the creation of social relations, sometimes hindering the process. For instance, Hagan (1998) shows that because of their confinement to domestic care jobs, Guatemalan female migrants suffered from lack of information regarding residence permit procedures, compared to their male counterparts who had a more extensive social network. Examples illustrating how gender influences social networking structures are present in this book too, as demonstrated below.

First, to adapt to a new life in Tirana and to find sustainable jobs, internal student migrants need to rely heavily on well-developed social networks, particularly so as to access the labour market. In Tirana, nepotism and corruption run rampant in the labour market, and for the women, it appears quite impossible to find jobs without the right informal connections. To build the new connections they need in Tirana, these female students mobilise their existing social capital and their erotic capital, defined by Hakim (2010) as beauty, sexual attractiveness, flirtations, social presentation, and sexuality. Taken together, these types of capital appear to be significant resources that female student mobilise in their quest for good employment and additional income. For instance, a case in Chap. 6 illustrates how a young student migrant engages in a sexual relationship with a wealthy, married man to create new connections and find a well-paying office job.

Second, I consider the networks created among the internal migrants working as domestic workers. Domestic work is an emerging sector and employs many migrant women in Tirana. However, domestic work also remains an invisible sector in the formal labour market. Most domestic workers do not have formal contracts but only verbal arrangements outlining their pay, work schedule, holidays and other job rules. Lacking institutional information and networks, migrant domestic workers have set up solidarity networks of mutual support, sharing information about job openings and the average pay to seek.

Third, international migrants in Greece mobilise their (in)formal employers to overcome administrative and everyday obstacles and to build new social networks. We see that migrant women in Greece, engaged mostly in informal work, use their employers to build the new connections they need to handle the various issues they encounter in their destination. For example, these illegal migrant women in Greece use their employers’ important connections when it comes to regularising their residency permits. They also utilise their primary employers’ connections to find additional part-time jobs and boost their financial capital.

Fourth, international students who have returned to Tirana present an interesting example that reveals migrant women’s ability to adapt to new social realities. They construct new social networks that include mostly highly educated return migrants with similar experiences. They set up new communities and alternative art and cultural spaces in attempts to “‘come together”‘in this new place (i.e., Tirana), “‘having come from other places”‘(Ahmed 1999, 345). The estrangement they feel from both Tirana and their hometowns pushes these young women to create new networks and join these new spaces of exchange and interaction.

Taken together, these examples demonstrate the women’s capacity to adapt to the new social realities in their destination and to increase their social capital by establishing new relations and networks. Gender informs these social relations and networks, often by limiting them, as we saw in the case of domestic workers in Tirana, for example. The mobilisation of one’s erotic capital for the purpose of expanding their social relations and finding a job is an additional example of how gender influences the creation and structure of social relations.

These cases advance our understanding of the complex intersection of gender and migration, and the equally complex role that social networks play at this intersection. Second, these participants show how women attempt to achieve their objectives by working within the existing systems of unequal gender relations and often-hostile institutional structures, including but not limited to nepotism in the labour market and ‘the strict Greek immigration policies and informal employment structures.

8.1.3 Gendered Return Experiences

We now turn our attention to the return migration phase and returnees’ experiences. As existing research has shown (Cassarino 2004; Sri Tharan 2010), no single factor can fully explain return migration and no single motivation drives it. Moreover, the motivations that do are undeniably gendered. This section explains how the return experiences analysed in this study improve our understanding of the intersection of gender and migration.

First, the analysis shows that a major reason for returning to Albania is to care for and be close to one’s parents. Gender affects the return project because caring for parents is considered to be women’s responsibility. This holds true for both student and non-student international migrants who return to care for their aging or sick parents. Furthermore, these cases add to the exploration of dynamic complex care chains detailed in Sect. 8.1.4, showing that the caregiver role remains exclusively feminised.

Second, this study reveals that another reason for returning to Albania is to invest in one’s own business or find a job more appropriate for one’s education and skills. Migrant women use the money they have saved and the professional knowledge they have gained while abroad to open their own businesses, such as hair salons, bakeries, and dry-cleaning shops. This pattern further illustrates the migrant status paradox (Nieswand 2011). In Greece and Italy, these migrant women see their social status decline, accepting jobs in the low-income and the informal segments of the labour market. Upon their return to Tirana, however, their economic and social statuses increase due to their financial capital and knowledge, which they invest in entrepreneurial projects and self-employment. The study brings to the fore the ambiguity of women’s upgraded status. In Albania, they gain status relative to their jobs in Greece but are hindered by the masculine state manifested in the bureaucratic institutions that discriminate against female entrepreneurs. To cope with these obstacles, women employ various tactics, such as being accompanied by male relatives and mimicking masculine behaviour. Paradoxically, they instrumentalise the same power of those whose dominance they try to challenge. This, too, perfectly encompasses the study’s two main findings: during the entire migration process, women encounter old and new gender constraints and, to cope with them, employ various tactics present within the existing unequal gender configurations.

8.1.4 From Care Chains to Care Webs: Women’s Caregiver Role

Research on gender and migration has extensively analysed caregiving, mostly in global care chains. Understood as a series of personal links between people based on paid or unpaid care work, care chains may be local, national or global. They might start in poor countries and end in rich ones or move from rural to urban areas within the same poor country (Hochschild 2000). In this vein, Albanian studies scholars highlight the complex, post-1991 dynamics of care, provided to both children and aging parents, including intra-familial support and the employment of domestic care workers (Vullnetari and King 2016). Situated within this rich body of literature on care chains, the present analysis brings to the fore further configurations that expose the complexity of care chains and the entanglements of gender and migration.

One notable example of care chains involves internal migrants to Tirana who are employed as domestic and care workers. This first configuration shows how Tirana-based women who enter the labour market pass on their caregiving duties to internal migrants. Women who employ internal migrants as domestic care workers may be non-migrants, internal migrants or return international migrants themselves. In turn, internal migrants employed as domestic care workers by women in Tirana transfer their mothering and caregiving roles to female relatives. This analysis thus points to the complexity of the intersections of internal and international care chains in the particular setting of Tirana.

Second, internal and international migration by women is often possible only because women pass their caregiving duties on to their parents or their daughters. Women become free to migrate thanks to intra-familial care chains, or family solidarity, in which female migrants’ caregiver role is assumed by their mothers or daughters. This occurs with both economic and student migration. For instance, grandparents look after their grandchildren, enabling the mother to migrate internationally for educational purposes or economic reasons. Several participants utilise this strategy - which I call intra-familial care chains - so that they can engage in paid employment or migrate internally and internationally.

Another example of intra-familial care chains is the case of migrant women returning to care for their parents. The cases analysed in Chap. 7 show how international student migrants return to care for their parents who are sick or face other difficulties. Another case explored in this Chapter is that of an economic international migrant who was able to migrate and work as a domestic care worker in Greece as her parents-in-law assumed her caregiver role. After several years of pendular migration, she returns to take care of them. In addition to an intra-familial care chain, this particular case illustrates how one migrant woman can take different places in the entrenched local and global caregiving configurations and participate in multiple migration trajectories.

Finally, we come to the third case that further depicts the complexity of care chains: that of return female migrants. While in Greece, these women fill the caregiving gap left by Greek women entering the productive workforce. These cases add to the body of literature demonstrating that the employment of international female migrants as domestic and care workers is framed, first by the inadequacy of welfare regimes and second by the absence of legal immigration channels, sometimes compensated by the toleration of illegal migration and informal employment. The analysis reveals that after returning to Albania, these female migrants who worked as domestic care workers in Greece remain part of care chains but now in the opposite position: as employers, not employees. To fill the caregiving gap in Albania and to engage in productive work, especially entrepreneurial initiatives, these same women hire internal migrants as domestic and care workers. This example illustrates how the city of Tirana emerges as part of entrenched global and local care configurations that, given their multiple entanglements, look more like care webs than care chains.

The notion of a care web should matter for the emotional, psychological and social relations that it entails. Going beyond the labour and financial chains, domestic care work and the intra and interfamilial care transfers also include a substantial emotional and social element. We saw the significance of the psychological aspect in the case of transnational mothers’ guilt and suffering at having left her children behind or that of return migrants who hire other internal migrants to pay forward the support and solidarity they have previously received. Hence, when I refer to care webs, I am referring to the complexity of such relations, including the economic transactions as well as the emotional and social dimensions.

To conclude, the multi-layered care chains and webs described in this research account also for men’s persistent lack of engagement in the caregiver role. The study results emphasise that these migrant women do not share their constructed caregiver role with their male partners but transfer it to other women who are relatives or employees. This pattern again reinforces the study’s core conclusion that migration does not fundamentally change gender relations or produce new gender arrangements. Instead, these migrant women operate mostly by deploying tactics aimed at handling different variations of the same unequal gender arrangements.

8.1.5 Tirana as a Site of Paradoxical Gendered Migratory Experiences

The women at the focus of my research had various experiences and followed multiple migratory trajectories, but they all lived in Tirana at the time of my research. However, none of them considered Tirana their hometown. Tirana may be seen as a site where people, whether married or single, male or female, and from all over Albania come to live, study, and work and where different lifestyles and points of view intersect. Moreover, there is a continuous, both ongoing and incoming, stream of migrants whose trajectories, experiences, and histories continuously intersect. Tirana can be described as a site balancing multiple worlds—the global and the local, the modern and the traditional, the sedentary (non-migrant) and the migrant. In the cases explored in this study, the city of Tirana seems to represent more of a ‘crossroads of mobilities’ than a place of ‘sedentariness’/sedentarité, in the words of Tarrius (1993, 1, 52). Internal and return migrant women living in Tirana are keen to engage in further international migration projects and maintain relationships in their destinations through circular migration. Where the intersection of gender and migration is concerned, Tirana is the space where women find new opportunities and new configurations of gender relations together with the same underlying unequal mechanisms, as the following cases reveal.

A first case exploring migrant women in Tirana, as detailed in Chap. 4, is that of internal migrants who moved to the city with their families for multiple reasons. Among the potential internal migration projects under the families’ consideration, Tirana offers the best economic, social, and educational opportunities and is the most feasible option for a family migration project, balancing the needs of all family members and containing already-established social networks that serve as a source of support. At the same time, Tirana also provides these women only low-paying job opportunities in the informal labour market, without regular contracts or social insurance.

The analysis further shows that moving to Tirana contributes to the nucleation process for those previously living as part of extended families, thus affecting gender relations within the family. The physical separation of housing is followed by the reorganisation of economic responsibilities, giving women more power and leading to new negotiations of gender relations within the extended household. Despite that, nucleation does not contribute to the reorganisation of gender hierarchies: the husband remains the head of the household, with the most decision-making power. The new negotiations of gender relations take place within the existing unequal gender hierarchies. As shown in Chap. 4, in the context of the nuclear household, men, even when laid off and outside the realm of productive work, do not engage in domestic work. Furthermore, in cases when women become the primary breadwinners in the family, they still go to great pains to maintain for their children the façade that the man is the head of the household. Again, the transformation wrought by negotiating gender does not threaten rooted hierarchical gender relations; to the contrary, migrant women seek to preserve them.

The second case examines the experiences of internal student migrants. To them, Tirana offers not only better educational opportunities but also a more autonomous life, far from their hometowns’ stringent gender norms and resulting social control. Such imaginaries of Tirana inform these women’s migration projects. This is in accordance with the literature on imaginaries as a powerful force shaping human action (Appadurai 1996) and imaginaries of equality as a driving force behind women’s migration projects and actions (Riano 2015). The literature further shows that, typically, one source of this imaginary is the media’s positive portrayal of such places (Mai 2004; Kim 2012). However, Tirana does not live up to the gendered imaginaries of a more equal, liberating place. The study results show that, paradoxically, Tirana’s lack of social control and liberating dimension are accompanied by new gender constraints and difficulties arising from the same underlying mechanisms as those from which the women escaped. These gender norms place them under new forms of precarity and gendered constraints, such as gender discrimination, job precariousness and sexual objectification and harassment in the workplace. This paradoxical situation appears to inspire in female student internal migrants further gendered geographical imaginaries reflecting a gendered idealisation of abroad and turning Tirana into just a phase in their migratory project.

The third case is that of female international return migrants. Not surprisingly, the analysis shows that better economic and job opportunities are the primary reasons return migrants choose Tirana over their hometowns. However, and more to the point within the scope of this investigation, the results contribute new insights into the intersections of gender and return migration. In particular, the analysis laid down in Chaps. 5 and 7 shows that, for the women whose first migration abroad brought an escape from the gender constraints experienced in their hometowns, Tirana represents the ‘big city’ that may serve a similar purpose. By staying in Tirana, they find a middle ground between their previous homes in their hometowns and the homes they made while abroad. Gender informs their choice of staying in Tirana over moving back to the hometowns that they consider to be less flexible in gender expectations and relations and spaces that exert stronger social control over these women —places from which they have become estranged.

A fourth case, already discussed in Sect. 8.1.3 on return migration but worth briefly mentioning here too, consists of migrant women who return to invest their financial and know-how capital in Tirana. As previously mentioned, once in Tirana, they are hindered by masculine bureaucratic institutions during the process of opening their businesses.

To conclude, this study shows that Tirana embodies a paradox: for migrant women, it is a city that offers new and additional avenues for further education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities; a city for anonymity and independence. At the same time, it is also a city of precarious jobs, sexual prejudice and harassment and the masculine state. Tirana thus appears to exemplify what the migration process is to these female migrants—a site where new opportunities coexist with both new and old gender constraints, a site where the complex interplay of gender and migration continuously manifests.

8.2 Dilemmas, Limitations and Some Self-Critical Reflections on Further Research Avenues

With this research, I wanted to contribute to further understanding the experiences of Albanian migrant women in particular and the intersections of gender and migration in general.

First, the results of my work emphasise the importance of exploring migration through an integrative approach combining multiple migratory trajectories. It was this approach that helped me uncover and understand the complexity of female migration and the multitude of experiences contained within their various migration trajectories. Secondly, examining female migrants’ experiences helped showcase the entrenchment of gender and migration through women’s voices and perspectives. I wanted to put their voices centre stage. Analysing their experiences allowed me to identify and explore the possible transformations that gender roles and relations undergo throughout the migration process, the experiences that make migrant women’s agency tangible, and the opportunities and the constraints they encounter during their various migration trajectories. Thirdly, this study examines female internal and international student migrants, an under-researched group both within and beyond Albanian migration studies. Analysing their experiences enables us to tease out how gender intersects with this specific type of migration, whether internal or international.

This research focusses on the experiences of migrant women living in the city of Tirana. Although Tirana is Albania’s most populated city with the highest percentage of incoming migrants, restricting the analysis to only the city of Tirana limits the scope of the research. I often ask myself, what could this analysis have brought to light if I had used a comparative approach between Tirana and another city? Although the research participants come from across Albania, the experiences of return, student, and internal migrant women could be different in cities other than Tirana. Hence, many other voices and angles could have come to the fore. But I had to decide on my approach and site of analysis, so I opted to focus on those women having relocated to Tirana. That means that the analysis of female migrants’ experiences in various regions of Albania remains open to future research on gender and migration in Albania. Such a more comprehensive and comparative approach could also break down the privilege granted to Tirana in this field.

Another point of inner discussion is that the sample could have been narrower, for instance, including only student migrants. In making such a choice, I could have then deepened the analysis of this domain of migration studies. That would have run the risk of limiting the picture of the complexities of female migration trajectories and their intersections with gender. Again, the findings of my analysis open the way for further, in-depth research on internal and international student migration. Such research could offer insights into academic and policy contexts, both domestic and international, and highlight the interplay of structures, institutions and individuals throughout the process of female student migration. Narrowing the focus to student migrants alone could allow for the comparison of the experiences of, for example, internal and international female student migrants; between students remaining in Tirana after their studies and those returning to their hometowns, etc. Issues such as sexual harassment or job precariousness could (and need to) be analysed more in-depth and contribute not only to the academic research but also to policy-making.

Another topic scholars, myself included, need to scrutinise further is the intersection of care, gender and migration. A significant body of international research on this topic provides a solid frame for further work on how local and global care chains manifest in a small, developing country such as Albania. Scholars could also contribute a comparative perspective to this domain of research. Such an analysis could provide new insights into Albanian and foreign domestic workers in Tirana, the role of ethnicity and citizenship in the intersection of gender and migration, the relationship between Albanian emigration and immigration and policy related to domestic workers, both Albanian and foreign. Again, the utility would not be limited to academic research but would be of significant benefit to policy-makers.

While working on my doctoral dissertation in Lisbon, I met a young Albanian gay residing in Italy but coming to Portugal to get married. Same-sex marriage has yet to be legalised in Italy. The interaction made me realize that, in my work, I was missing the experiences of LGBTIQ+ in migration. At that point, I couldn’t change my research. But I need to mention this element now because Albanian studies entirely miss LGBTIQ+ migration. My work too is mostly focussed on a gender binary relation, limiting the broad spectrum of experiences in the migration processes. This is as much self-criticism as it is a call to other scholars to further research in this direction.

Finally, Albanian migration needs to be further analysed through an integrative approach as a gendered process that includes various migratory trajectories. Following the work of Juli Vullnetari and Zana Vathi (and here I apologise to other scholars that I am not mentioning only because of my ignorance), this study offers some insights into how gender and the migration process influence each other. It also shed some more light on how the gendered experiences of Albanian migrant women inform and are in turn shaped by their various migration trajectories: internal, international, circular and return migration. These complex entrenchments of gender and migration trajectories await further investigation that may deepen our understanding of how gender influences social processes.