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In the beginning of the twentieth century poor eastern Caribbean women followed male migrant workers to various places such as: the Panama Canal, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Curacao, and Aruba in order to provide for their families.
Eastern Caribbean women have developed their own family model, which include non-marital relationships and freedom to travel for work. According to eastern Caribbean social norms poor women are expected to have children and support them financially. This results in women leaving their children with extended family and supporting them by working in distant places (99).
During the Pre-1960s women migrant workers found employment as seamstresses, cooks, laundresses, and maids at labor camps located in the Panama Canal Zone, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic (100). When employment on these islands decreased, women followed the labor migrant pattern again by traveling to Trinidad, Curacao and Aruba to perform domestic work (101).
“The female labor migrants experienced a form of freedom and independence that came with consistent predictable wages. These migrant domestics were economic mainstays for their dependents left behind in their sending societies” (101). The quote is showing how migrant women have moved from their economic status in their home town to now being able to support themselves and their families through steady employment.
During the Post-1960s increased economic investment in tourism on the US and British Virgin Islands, in addition to the Dutch’s Aruba and St. Maarten brought again the labor migrant pattern of women coming to work in the tourism industry (101).
The increase in tourism on the Virgin Islands brought with it increases in foreign born populations and in female workers. “ ’The general prosperity that was stimulated by tourism resulted in a demand for female workers, as maids and ancillary personal in hotels and gift shops and as domestics in private households’” (102). The quote shows how female labor plays an important role in the economies of these islands.
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In terms of globalization, it has exposed women to new kinds of work, in addition to solidifying their presence in the labor force (103).
Many migrant workers consider themselves foreigners in the country they work in and are affected by immigration laws, which play a role in the relationships they have with their families (105).
In conclusion, tourism in the Caribbean provides poor women the opportunity to increase their wages, but it is a change of immigration status that provides the most stability for women (106)