As one of the largest migrant workers communities in the world (UN Women, 2019), in Indonesia,
working abroad has become a means of escaping poverty. (Setyawati, 2013) The government actively
promotes labor migration as a temporary solution to national unemployment and poverty where the
majority of labor supply work as low-skilled and semi-skilled workers in the sectors of service,
construction, and domestic work. (Setyawati, 2013)

As opposed to the general fact that women are underrepresented in the Indonesian job market,
the “norm” does not apply to migrant workers. Historically, Indonesian migrant workers have always
been dominated by women
. According to the World Bank, (2017) in 2009, more than 80 percent of all
documented migrant workers were women, though this number has decreased gradually, women
remain the majority. These women are often represented as national heroes who contribute to
Indonesia’s economic development by the government. But behind that, there are more complex and
systemic problems making up those high numbers of women in the industry. Here, we’d like to
investigate: Why are the Indonesian labor migrant force, one of the largest in the world, mostly formed
by women?

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