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Women Foreign Workers Growing In Importance In The Middle East, Western Union-Sponsored Research Paper Finds

DUBAI, UAE, June 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Authors urge greater action to harness  positive economic impact of expatriate women

Labor migration has led to an increase in the independence of women and their influence over household decisions, but more could be done to harness the positive impact these women have, according to a research paper sponsored by The Western Union Company released today.

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The paper, 'Women Migrants, Remittances and Their Impact in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region', was authored by Dr Ismail Hakki Genc, Professor of Economics, and Dr George Naufal, Assistant Professor of Economics, at the American University of Sharjah. It examined macroeconomic indicators and available research on women workers in the Middle East as well as in other regions.

"At Western Union, we have seen that the empowerment of women is an important driver in improving the welfare of families and communities around the world, both in places abroad where they work and in their home countries," said Sobia Rahman, Western Union' s Regional Vice President for Gulf, Pakistan & Afghanistan Western Union. "The research paper released today shows that in the Middle East, in particular, there is great potential to unlock the positive impact that women can make."

The paper found that women have become increasingly independent when it comes to financial matters, both in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states where they have gone to work and in their home countries when their husbands work overseas.

Key findings:
  • Women are more reliable than men when remitting funds to their families back home. In 2008 we found that over 12 months, the mean remittances of female expatriate workers in Dubai were almost AED 2,000 more than the remittances of male expatriates.    
  • Women tend to allocate more resources to support family living expenses and human capital, compared with their male counterparts, who tend to focus on building physical capital.
  • Women are also more likely to act as a safety net for their family back home during emergencies and bad economic times. Some 52 per cent of female expatriates in Dubai allocate a portion of their overall remittances for such eventualities, compared with just 5 percent of all expatriate workers.

Dr Genc said: "Women's spending and remittance habits are skewed toward the build-up of human capital, one of the most effective means of driving economic development."

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