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Research led by Portsmouth geographers on the impact of international female migration on ‘left-behind’ families has directly contributed to changes in international policies and programmes that have benefited over 500,000 female migrants and their dependents in Indonesia.



Approximately 1,300,000 women from Indonesia work abroad, mainly in the Middle East and South East Asia. At the time, the Government of Indonesia ‘Regulation Concerning Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers’ (39/2004) focussed exclusively on the ‘placement’ of migrants in destination countries and did not include provision for the left-behind family nor for re-integration of the migrant worker on return to Indonesia.



Geographers led a programme of research in East Java, Indonesia that examined the impacts of female international migration on the economic and social wellbeing of the ‘left-behind family’.



Researchers were invited by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Manpower to participate in a number of high-level discussions to revise Regulation 39/2004. The revised law charged the village government with protecting the legal, economic and social rights of the migrant family: extending the roles and responsibilities of sub-national government. Since adoption, a total of 568,281 female migrants have been placed overseas and they, and their families, have directly benefitted from this change in regulation.

The team also developed a training curriculum that included modules on foreign culture, health, banking and legal arrangements, social structure, education systems, disaster management and communication. This training programme was adopted by four large private agencies and two return-migrant cooperatives and by July 2020 7,700 women had been trained.


More information

Institution: University of Portsmouth

Researchers: Professor Saseendran Pallikadavath

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Improving the wellbeing of international women migrants and their families in Indonensia. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>