Pre-pandemic mobility: uncoupling gendered return migration and COVID-19 in Zimbabwe

Jaji, Rose
Externe Publikationen (2024)

in: McAuliffe & Bauloz (eds.), Research Handbook on Migration, Gender, and COVID-19, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 213-224

ISBN: 978-1-80220-866-5

COVID-19-induced return migration occurred as an unanticipated course of action due to the pandemic’s adverse impact on migrant workers. The pandemic has undeniably increased the volume of return migration. This chapter, however, cautions against a covidization of return migration and argues that while the pandemic is currently the main reason cited, return migration even when migrants had not met their migration goals had been going on before the outbreak of COVID-19. The chapter uses a gendered lens to discuss the reasons for pre-COVID-19 return migration to a country, Zimbabwe, where people are desperately looking for ways to emigrate due to persistent economic hardships. For many Zimbabweans who have lived through the country’s long-drawn-out socio-economic and political difficulties, migration has become the most viable option. Yet, some of the Zimbabweans who managed to leave the country have returned to the essentially unimproved situation, thus raising questions as to why migrants would return when they have not met the goals of migration and the reasons for migration persist. The chapter shows that return migration is not necessarily influenced by improvement in factors that led to migration but may be an outcome of disappointment with circumstances in the destination country. The reasons for migration still play a role in return migration when migration to destination countries fails to meet migrants’ expectations that motivated migration in the first place. In this respect, return occurs due to multiple reasons that may be linked to both the origin and destination countries. The lack of better economic prospects in destination countries and ensuing gendered socio-cultural and psychological challenges both diminish the appeal of the specific destination country such that return becomes the best option.


Über die Autorin

Jaji, Rose



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