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Impact of remittances on female headed households: case of Kosovo

Deniza Gashi Jeton Maliqi Marigona Bekteshi Rozafa Kelmendi Valdon Bytyçi

Supervisor: Ardiana Gashi Spring School on Sustainable Human Development

May 2013



 Remittances and gender inequality: literature review

Kosovo context ................................................................................................................... 8 3.1 Macroeconomic overview ................................................................................................ 8 3.2 Position of women in Kosovo .......................................................................................... 9 3.2.1 Education ................................................................................................................ .11 3.2.2 Employment............................................................................................................. 11

 Impact of remittances on female headed households in Kosovo
 4.1 Evidence from exisiting literature ................................................................................. .13 4.2 Findings from in-depth interview .................................................................................. .14 5. Conclusion and recommendations
 References ............................................................................................................................... .17 Appendix: Questions used for in-depth interviews


Abbreviations and accronyms CBK

Central Bank of Kosovo


Foreign Direct Investments


Gross Domestic Product


Human Development Report


International Monetary Fund


International Organization for Migration


Kosovo Agency of Statistics


Kosovo Human Development Report


Kosovo Remittance Household Survey


Kosovo Remittance Study


Labour Force Survey


Money Transfer Agencies


Non-governmental organization


Public Employment Services


Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian


United Nations Development Programme


United States Dollar


Value Added Tax


1. Introduction Remittances are recognized by governments and international organizations as an important external source of capital for developing countries with an increasingly socio-economic impact within recipient households and communities. Remittances have been for decades an important financial source supporting wellbeing of Kosovo households. Acknowledging importance of remittances there is a sound literature analysing the impact of remittances though in more general terms rather than focusing on women and girls specifically. There is a growing literature that assesses the impact of remittances on life of females. According to literature remittances can have positive and negative impact. Remittances can influence gender roles within a household, can influence labour force participation of women and their employment. Due to lack of data not all these dimensions can be analysed in the case of Kosovo. However this study is among the first attempts focusing solely on the impact that migration has on female headed households in Kosovo. The objective of this study is to contribute to efforts aimed at maximizing the potential of remittances in Kosovo, through the integration of a gender perspective in the study of the flows, uses and socio-economic impact of remittances within recipient households and communities. The main aim is analyzing the gender dimensions of the sending, use and impact of remittances. Specifically, this research seeks to increase knowledge and understanding through a gender analysis on: – The contribution of migrants to the development of Kosovo and the relevance of that contribution to female empowerment; – How the migration is affecting gender roles and decision making processes in households and community. To address the above mentioned aims the study has made an extensive use of existing literature on remittances. Due to lack of data in the field few in-depth interviews have been conducted with female headed households that have their husband abroad. Although generalisation from undertaken in-depth interviews cannot be done, it can be used to provide the first insights and also as a pilot for further investigation in the field. 4

2. Remittances and gender inequality: literature review The potential contribution of remittances to poverty reduction and community development, are a subject of many studies, reflected in the formulation of policies and programmes to maximize their potential, but most of remittance studies do not take a gender approach and have not questioned the decision-making processes involved in remittance behaviour. Current thinking by policymakers and donor agencies in developed countries as well as among many academics is to view migrants as potential agents of development by not only sending remittances but also returning with newly acquired skills and valuable knowledge to their country of origin. Yet, most existing analyses of the migration development nexus still focus exclusively on economic development in the countries of origin, and there is a clear lack of research on the impact of migration on broader social development as it relates to issues of education, health, social welfare, political participation and the link between social development and democratisation of human relations anti-discrimination in terms of class and gender. (GCIM 2005) Critical review of research, policies and programmes on remittances from a gender perspective is essential to ensuring their effective contribution to social development. There is a need for longitudinal studies to find out how deep the impact of migration and remittances on gender relations actually is, since there is a significant gap in understanding and action related to the gender dimensions of remittances. Although it is hard to assess the financial impact of migration on sending countries, this might be even harder in the context of their social impact. It seems safe to say that social and economic remittances both tend to trigger significant changes in social relations within communities and families. (Murison,2005). According to the global Human Development Report (HDR) 2009 on Migration and Mobility, the change in the migrant base around the world, increased in the share of women, may change traditional roles, especially with regard to caregiving duties of children and elderly, as the women move. When men emigrate, several studies have found that remittances have strengthened women’s position in the household and enhanced their emancipation, including participation in community-level activities. 5   

In other cases, women’s position in the family was exacerbated as their duties and responsibilities increased but their decision-making power was limited until their spouse’s return, or taken over by parents in law. (UNDP, 2009). The level of control over money also differs from one woman to another. Because households are marked by power hierarchies, it is essential to look at who receives, manages and decides on the use of remittances, as well as societal aspects such as women’s access to banking services. (IOM, Gender, Migration and Remittances 2010). Remittances help to improve the economic situation of receiving households and are sometimes the only or prime source of income. In addition, remittances act as a social security and safety net for those left behind and for returning migrants. Where women have a high degree of control over the use of remittances, these are usually spent to meet the nutritional, educational and health care needs of household members, especially children (UN-INSTRAW, 2005). Because of this, women’s use of remittances has often been considered “unproductive”, though it can be argued that investment in food, education and health is an important factor in alleviating poverty and thus, for furthering development (Datta et al., 2006). Beyond the household, remittances may be used in the form of collective investments at the community level, for instance, if municipal- or provincial-level diaspora organizations build a community library, secure water supply through infrastructure investment, or provide emergency provisions after a hurricane. These measures essentially fill gaps in public services. As such, they may have particular significance for women who are generally the ones most affected by the absence of these services. However, due to cultural norms, women are often absent from positions of power in diaspora and local associations and hence are excluded from the decision-making process on how to use collective remittances. (IOM Gender, Migration and Remittances 2010) However, where women are direct recipients of remittances, the likelihood of greater economic empowerment and decision-making for themselves and for the household is increased (Debnath and Selim, 2009).


Though remittances may be a factor leading to a renegotiation of women’s position in the society, socio-cultural factors such as education, religion and women’s political participation play a significant role in determining gender roles. Macroeconomic events, such as the decline in remittances during the economic and financial crisis of 2009, can threaten the sustainability of changes, as they can negatively impact not only household welfare, but also girl’s enrolment in schools and overall gender equality (Buvinic, 2009). Decision-making among women often increases with education, age and the duration of marriage, if the money is sent by the spouse (Debnath and Selim, 2009). In general, it may be assumed that women’s active role as senders and recipients of remittances can act as a catalyst for change in gendered power relations, by improving women’s decision-making, economic status and inclusion in the labour market. As senders of remittances, migrant women may acquire a new role as primary provider for the family, whereas women staying behind may assume more responsibility, thereby obtaining more autonomy in managing household resources and taking on traditionally male roles in the community (UN-INSTRAW, 2007).


3. Kosovo context Although Kosovo has been a source of migrants since the beginning of the 20th century, the exact number of them remains unknown. Recently, the number of Kosovan emigrants residing abroad was estimated to be between 220,000 and 500,000.(UNDP KRS 2012) Migration and remittances have made an enormous contribution to the Kosovan economy since the 1960s. On a household level, they are considered a coping mechanism for the disadvantaged households lacking employment and earning opportunities. (UNDP, 2010). UNDP KRHS 2011 data show that remittances are a major source of income in Kosovo, second only to income from permanent employment. In the post-conflict years, Kosovo has seen some economic progress, which has been mainly fuelled by foreign aid in the form of official development assistance and humanitarian aid. While the international donor assistance for Kosovo has gradually decreased, remittances have been a more constant source of external financing, ranging between 11 and 16% of its GDP. (UNDP KRS 2012)

3.1 Macroeconomic overview Kosovo has weathered the euro crisis fairly well, with relatively strong fiscal fundamentals, a healthy banking sector, and economic growth rates consistently above those prevailing in neighboring countries. (World Bank Group in Kosovo/Country Snapshot2013) Kosovo’s economic growth has been steady and generally at rates above those in neighboring countries (figure 6). The average growth rate of 4 percent during 2009–12 has largely been attributable to public investments in post-conflict reconstruction, donor assistance, and remittances. Figure 1. Real GDP Growth Rates, 2009–12

Sources: Country authorities; IMF; World Bank staff estimates


The particular structure of Kosovo’s economy—with limited financial linkages and a small export base—has implied that, similar to the aftermath of the global crisis in 2008–09, spillovers from the worsening Eurozone crisis have been less severe than in neighboring countries. In particular, remittances (recorded as “transfers” in the balance of payments), foreign direct investment (FDI), and other non-debt-creating flows from Kosovars living in Germany and Switzerland are expected to remain relatively stable. However, Kosovo’s current growth model is unsustainable over the longer term. Increasing private sector activities and investments will become increasingly more critical as engines to generate growth and, in turn, improve job and income perspectives. With per capita GDP estimates of around €2,600, Kosovo is one of the poorest countries in Europe. With 29 (8) percent of its population of 1.8 million1 living on less than €1.61 (€1.09) per day (2010 data), poverty—while on a gradually declining trend—remains widespread. However, Kosovo has a relatively low Gini index and flat consumption distribution. No significant differences exist between urban and rural poverty, but there are notable regional differences. Extreme poverty is disproportionately high among children, the elderly, households with disabled members, female-headed households, and certain ethnic minority households (especially in the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities). As in many other countries, there is a strong negative correlation between education and poverty. Widespread unemployment and a lack of quality jobs have contributed to poverty and income insecurity. With an estimated unemployment rate of above 40 percent and an employment rate of only 29 percent, Kosovo has the weakest employment record in Europe.2 (World Bank Group in Kosovo- Country Snapshot 2013)

------------------1 The census from April 2011 revealed that the population of Kosovo (even when adding the estimated number of residents in northern Kosovo) is smaller than previously estimated, resulting in higher than previously estimated per capita GDP figures. 2 These figures are based on 2009 data, the quality of which has caused some observers to question the above (un)employment rates.


3.2 Position of women in Kosovo Gender equality means "equal participation of women and men in all areas of life, equal status, equal opportunity to enjoy all their rights and put in service their individual potential in the development of society, and equal benefit of the results of such development ". (Law on Gender Equality , Nr. 2004/2) Gender equality in Kosovo is promoted and encouraged through legislation in force, with particular aim on the promotion of women's participation in the work process, as well as in leadership positions and decision-making. There are a series of laws that promote gender equality directly or through other forms, ranging from the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, about 14 laws approved by the Assembly, and other legal acts. Despite the passage of UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security more than a decade ago, which for the first time recognized women’s role in peace building, and four subsequent resolutions focusing on supporting women’s full participation in maintaining and promoting peace and security at all stages of peace building processes, women’s capacities and potential remain underused and their participation in decision making processes low. In spite of a 30 per cent quota for women in Parliament and municipal assemblies, female participation in decision making, the security sector, and peace negotiations in Kosovo remains low. While 33.3 per cent of members in the Kosovo Assembly are women, only 15 per cent of Assembly Committees are chaired by women. Women’s potential contribution to peace building and post-conflict planning and reconstruction, including at a local level remains often unrecognized and severely underfunded. (UN Women 2012)


3.2.1 Education While education is vital to women’s economic empowerment, Kosovo’s cultural and economic incentives favour male education over female education. For families in dire material situations male education has a higher return on investment, as men generally stay with their parents after marriage while women tend to leave their parent’s homes to join their husbands’ households. (CIPE 2012) Kosovo’s education system does not yet provide its nearly one-half million students with adequate curricula and instruction to produce the skills that the evolving labour market requires. The system needs to improve quality and relevance throughout and address access issues at the secondary and post-secondary levels, where students from the poorest households and women/girls from all income quintiles are underrepresented. However, moving towards universal access to secondary education requires additional efforts to increase the access of girls and women to secondary and post-secondary education and significantly raise enrolment. Similarly, attention needs to be paid to means of raising secondary school enrolment for children from the poorest households, of which only about two-thirds attend schools at that level.(World Bank Group in Kosovo-Country Snapshot’13) 3.2.2 Employment Kosovo’s difficult labor market conditions have been especially severe for youth and women. Estimates suggest that unemployment among 15–25-year-olds exceeds 75 percent. At 56 percent, unemployment is very high among Kosovo’s women. There are also large differences in female/male employment rates, with only 11 (68) percent of working-age women (men) employed.(World Bank Group in Kosovo- Country Snapshot 2013) In Kosovo, marriage and inheritance issues limit women’s access to property ownership. By law, men and women should receive equal inheritances, but in reality women either give up their right to property or the parents decide so for them. In marriage, the husband generally owns property, so when a divorce occurs the property stays with him. In turn, without property, women cannot secure the loans necessary to start a business. (CIPE 2012)


4. Impact of remittances on female headed households in Kosovo It is often implicitly assumed that patterns of sending and using remittances are genderneutral. In reality though, gender not only influences who migrates, when, where, why and how, it also affects the amount and frequency of remittances which migrants send home, as well as how the money is used. (IOM Gender, Migration and Remittances, IOM) According to KRHS 2011, the share of households receiving remittances is higher among female-headed households 31%, compared to 24% of male-headed households. Most femaleheaded households receive remittances from their brothers (28%), sons (24%) and husbands (12.5%). UNDP data show that the average age of household heads in Kosovo is 48 years. Heads of recipient households are on average 3.5 years older than their non-recipient counterparts. Table 1.Characteristics of household heads, by receipt of remittances

Source: UNDP KRS 2012

According to KRS 2012, the mean ratio of remittance investments on human capital is the same regardless of whether the decision-maker or household head in Kosovo is a man or a woman.


4.1 Evidence from exisiting literature Kosovo is one of the regional countries that have the largest number of Diaspora in proportion to its population. The effect of sending remittances has been the main driver of economic development through decades in our country. In addition to cash and in-kind remittances, migrants also remit ideas, behavior and social capital to their countries of origin, or so called “social remittances” (Levitt, 1998). This kind of remittance has brought new ideas, expertise and approaches in the behavior, business activities and in general in the way of living. According to UNDP KRS 2010, income from remittances contributes by approximately 40 percent to recipient household’s total monthly income. The presence of remittances increases the access of women headed households to healthcare, especially in the rural areas. Specifically, the share of women heads of households that find it difficult to meet the cost of seeing a doctor is 9 percentage points lower among remittancereceiving households. (UNDP KRS 2010) Table2. Difficulty of meeting the cost of seeing a doctor by type of settlement, gender of head of household and by presence of remittances

Source: UNDP KRS 2012

According to KRHS 2011, 19% of female household heads in Kosovo have not completed primary education: three times the figure of Kosovan men and almost five times the figure of emigrant women. (UNDP KRS 2012)


The average education of all Kosovan household heads is 11.3 years, but there are statistically significant differences between heads of recipient and non-recipient households and male and female household heads. Remittance recipients report to have completed 0.4 years less education on average. The average education for women is 9.6 years, 2 years less than men. Interestingly, women from recipient households reported to have completed 0.5 more years of education than their non-recipient counterparts. (UNDP KRS 2012) The differences in education across gender groups by remittance receipt are small yet statistically significant. The average education level of men in non-recipient households (12 years) is 0.3 years higher compared to their counterparts in recipient households (11.7 years). The average education level of non-recipient women (10.9 years) is only a fraction higher compared to their recipient counterparts (10.8 years). (UNDP KRS 2012)

4.2 Findings from in-depth interview "Yes, now my position has improved, but still I am not a decision maker in family." (Interview: Drenas, 29/04/2013) Now we have a significant number of female headed households in Kosovo and Diaspora. From this, we can understand the advancement began, as well as the progress of woman as decision makers. Families with female households have increased recent years, due to the new wave of immigration after the war that continues even now. Interviewed female households, show that their spouses send money every month, but since they living with husband’s family, the largest amount of remittances is sent to the parents. Despite this, due to the remittances received from spouses, their position in the family has improved significantly. Some women who manage remittances find that this increases their participation in decision-making. The effect of remittances to female households, has made them to be more active in their social life. UNDP KRS 2012 shows that the literacy rate, education and human development in general is higher for female household in Kosovo compared to those living in emigration. Highest education level of women interviewed is high school, they are currently unemployed, while among them some want to work, only when the children grow and welfare improves.


Most of women don’t choose to go beyond the simple day-to-day management of the money and most of remittances received are spent on consumption and children education. Regarding to the approach towards financing children based on gender, female household declare that they aim to provide same opportunities to their sons and daughters. “"I have always treated my children equally. My greatest wish is that my children complete their studies, therefore I help them with their homework ". (Interview, Drenas, 29/04/2013) In all this, we see the impact of remittances on the possibility of participation, influence and empowerment of women in the family and society, through her further education and improvement of her position. Kosovo Remittance Study of UNDP found that the proportion of households receiving remittances










While the findings of the UNDP report for 2012, show a growing trend of remittances received by female households. In this report are presented in percentage remittances received by employed and unemployed women, where a worrying fact remains the number of women not seeking employment even though in the past years the number of female job seekers has increased. Figure 2. Percentage of employed household heads, by gender and receipt of remittances

Figure 3. Percentage of unemployed household heads, by gender and receipt of remittances

Source: KRS UNDP, 2012


5. Conclusion and recommendations Results of this research should

help the formulation of policy recommendations and

capacity-building materials on the gender dimensions of remittances that will enable policymakers and development practitioners to place women’s and gender issues at the centre of the international migration agenda. The main objective of this research is to effect a change in policy, programming and projects that seek to harness the development potential of remittances so that they take women’s participation, contribution, needs and priorities into account. Relevant institutions should strive to: • Collect and disseminate remittances data disaggregated by gender and age in order to contribute to greater knowledge and understanding of gendered patterns of sending, receiving and investing remittances. • Disseminate good practices in the area of gender and remittances. • Develop gender-sensitive strategies that aim to increase the development potential of remittances. • Support the inclusion of gender considerations in bilateral policy dialogues on remittances. • Disseminate accurate gender-sensitive information to migrants and remaining household members regarding the possibilities for sending, receiving and investing remittances • Facilitate gender-sensitive financial literacy and/or business training for men and women migrants, returnees and beneficiaries of remittances. • Support women’s participation in decision-making processes related to the collective use of remittances. A research methodology was developed for research on remittances and their development potential from a gender perspective, that focuses on qualitative research. Specific tool has been developed in order to interview women involved in the utilization of remittances. Conclusions from this study will help to establish certain areas that require further research and analysis - with the aim of strengthening the capacity of the actors involved and maximizing the potential of remittances to contribute to household well-being and community development. Finally it is important to note that findings that are presented in this study are used from remittance surveys which are not intended to analyse specifically gender issues hence a focused study on remittances and gender issues is needed. 16

 Buvinic, M. 2009 Emerging Issues: The Gender Perspectives on the Financial Crisis, Written statement to the expert panel of the UN rd Commission on the Status of Women, 53 Session, 2–13 March 2009, Debnath, P. and N. Selim 2009 Impact of short term male migration on their wives left behind: A case study of Bangladesh, in Gender and Labour Migration in Asia, IOM, 2009, pp. 121–151. Datta, K. et al. 2006 Challenging Remittances as the New Development Mantra: Perspectives from Low-paid Migrant Workers in London, remittances.pdf CIPE 2012 –(Center for International Private Enterprise 2012 ) “Contesting feminine identities , feminist and Muslim, post-socialist contexts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo”, Sarajevo, 2012, Group of authors IOM Gender, migration and remittances (2010) IOM and UN-INSTRAW 2007 Survey on Remittances 2007: Gender Perspectives, Working Books on Migration 24, Working%20Notebook%20No.%2024.pdf IOM et al. 2007 Género y Remesas: Migración Colombiana del AMCO hacia España, offonce/lang/es?entryId=17065 Law on Gender Equality , Nr. 2004/2, Remittance Survey of Household in Kosovo, 2011 UNDP Kosovo Remittance Study 2010 UNDP Kosovo Remittance Study 2011 UNDP Kosovo Remittance Study 2012 UN-INSTRAW 2005 Crossing Borders: Remittances, Gender and Development, 2006 GENDER, MIGRATION, REMITTANCES AND DEVELOPMENT 2007 Remittances, Working Paper 4, 2007, World Bank Group in Kosovo- Country Snapshot 2013


Appendix: Questions used for in-depth interviews Spring School on Sustainable Human Development is conducting a research on the topic "Impact of remittances on female headed households”. Your personal data will not be published in any way, so please be as honest in response, in order that survey gains in precision and correct reflection. Results from the interviews will be used solely for scientific purposes.

Age: ______

Place of birth (Municipality): _________________

Place of residence:

Highest education degree____________

Employment status: Employed; Unemployed and looking for job; Unemployed and not looking for job.

How many children do you have: How many daughters? _______ How many sons? _______

Number of family members: ________________

Do you live with your husband’s family?

Who takes the decisions on your family?

Did your husband’s migration impact on your decision making power?

Who holds the money (family budget)?

Do you receive remittences and how often: __________

What do you spend your remittances for?

Now that your husband is out of the country, has your approach towards financing your daughters and sons changed in your family ?

1. Country

2. Town


Impact of remittances on female headed households: Case of Kosovo