• international migration;
  • decision-making;
  • dowry;
  • Bangladesh


While the impact of remittances upon the economic conditions of the sending communities has received much attention, the effects of international migration on women's position in society among the left-behind have not been adequately explored. This paper examines the changes in the left-behind women's position at the family level as a result of the migration of adult men overseas. Data came from a demographic surveillance system covering 70 villages in Bangladesh. All migrant families having at least one male member working abroad for more than six months were identified in the study villages in 1996. A comparable number of non-migrant families were selected at random from the same villages to yield a total sample of 1030 families. In-depth interviews were conducted with adult women of the sample families. Findings reveal that the overseas migration of adult males has a significant positive association with women's decision-making capacity and education of girls in the migrant families. The remittances as well as the influence of secular values have reduced the practice of dowry in marriages. Multivariate analysis suggests not only that remittances have increased the financial capacity of the migrant families, but also that secular influences from overseas might have modified the position of women when the role of other socio-economic factors is controlled. The study concludes that the overseas migration of adult men can create a context for change of the women's position in traditional communities. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.