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Based on quantitative and qualitative fieldwork, this paper analyses how internal and international out-migration of men has affected the position of women left behind in a rural area in southern Morocco. The results generally refute the hypothesis that migration changes gender roles. Although international migration and remittances enable women and their families to live more comfortable and secure lives, internal migration often coincides with increasing workloads and uncertainty. Although their husbands' migration leads to a temporary increase in the tasks and responsibilities of women, this new role is generally perceived as a burden and should therefore not be equated with emancipation in the meaning of making independent choices against prevailing gender norms. In a classical “patriarchal bargain”, women prefer to avoid overt rule-breaking in order to secure their social position. Significant improvements in the position of rural women are primarily the result of general social and cultural change, although migration might have played an indirect, accelerating role in these processes.

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Journal article


Oxford Development Studies

Publication Date



38 (1)


43 - 62