An analysis of African female migration to South Africa: The case of Mozambican female migrants in Mpumalanga
As with every social phenomenon, migration has a gender dimension, and a gender analysis is therefore pertinent in understanding African migration. The nature, patterns, experiences and forms of interaction between female migrants and members of their host community has its uniqueness. The nature of interaction and integration of female migrants may differ from those of male migrants as a result of the “social world” in which females find themselves. Therefore, a gender neutral analysis of migration may distort the gendered complexities of this age long phenomenon with negative impact for knowledge production. As such, this article contributes to the literature on gender and migration by undertaking a gender disaggregation analysis of interactions between Mozambican female migrants and South African host members in Mpumalanga province of South Africa. The key themes covered include the demographic profile of female Mozambican migrants in the study area, the determinants of female Mozambican migration, the challenges encountered in the course of migration and the nature of relationship between female Mozambicans and South Africans in the study area. Twenty female migrants were purposively sampled and interviewed around the key themes the paper focussed on and the findings were discussed within the context of the gendered geographies of power theory and Nuttal’s entanglement model to offer a holistic picture of these relationships. The findings confirm that female Mozambican migrants in Mpumalanga province experience migration and integration differently from their male counterparts. Starting from the decision to migrate, the intervening obstacles during migration to their integration into their host communities in South Africa, female Mozambican migrants faced certain challenges such as rape which males did not face. Also, females tend to be very convivial in their entanglements with members of their host communities and last, irrespective of whether they were primary or secondary migrants, female Mozambican migrants who had convivial relationship with South Africans received both material and immaterial support from their hosts which facilitated their survival and integration.
Keywords: Entanglement, Migration, Xenophobia, Gendered Geographies of Differences and Entanglement