Women who do not migrate: intersectionality, social relations, and participation in western Nepal
Migration impacts left-behind populations, disrupting established norms of social interaction, participation, and inclusion. In western Nepal, labour migration is common among young men, with implications for household and community participation among those left behind, who are predominately women. In this study, we use mixed methods to examine how labour migration impacts the social inclusion of migrant households, especially, of left-behind women in community groups and activities. For our analysis, we use quantitative survey data from over 3600 households in the Karnali and Mahakali River Basins of western Nepal and qualitative data from 16 focus group discussions and 37 in-depth interviews held in the same region. Our analysis reveals substantial heterogeneity in the experiences of women and households left behind by migrants. Women’s opportunities to participate in economic systems such as natural resource user committees and non-governmental organisation trainings are moderated by intersecting identities including gender, caste/ethnicity, kinship, age, and economic status. Young women from nuclear, low caste, and poor households with limited social ties suffer from disadvantaged positions and face restricted access to spaces of participation. Accordingly, left-behind women’s opportunities to benefit from community resources remain dependent on their caste and kinship networks. These findings contribute to ongoing debates on the impacts of migration, and can help inform improved targeting of interventions to advance gender equity in rural Nepal.