Good Mothers, Bad Mothers: Migrant Ukrainian Women Negotiating to Belong

Publication Date: 
Publication Place: 
Publication Language: 
UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
Series Title: 
UNU-CRIS Working Papers
Working Paper Type: 

This article examines the connections between socio-political and economic transformations in Ukraine and the discourses surrounding motherhood and migration, specifically focusing on the migratory pattern of female migration to Italy that emerged in the early 1990s. By bringing together fragmented scholarship on gender roles, motherhood, nation-building, and migration, the authors explore the influence of these transformations on discourses of “proper motherhood” and “proper female citizenship.” 

We argue that the economic and political transition in Ukraine resulted in a shift in gender roles and ideals of motherhood, and migrant women negotiate the national politics of belonging in response to these discourses. Through a critical literature review, the authors illustrate the complex chain of factors that led to the effects of discourses on the migration of mothers. The article also discusses the reshaping of gender relations in the context of economic and socio-political changes, the shift from mother as a worker to mother, and the role of nation-building in constructing notions of good mothers. 

This study contributes to a nuanced understanding of the interplay between gender, migration, and nation-building in post-communist Ukraine.

Ukraine, gender roles, motherhood, migration, socio-political transformation, economic transformation, nation-building