While the average expat woman still finds herself following her spouse abroad, more and more expat women strive for an international career. In both cases, they often struggle with different issues than their male compatriots. Visit InterNations to learn all you need to know as a woman about to move abroad.
Statistically speaking, today’s average expat woman still finds herself in the role of the "trailing spouse" (or, to put it in less old-fashioned terms, "traveling partner"), following her husband abroad and taking care of the children while he is at work. Only some of them keep on working during their time abroad, due to visa issues or the additional work load of their husbands. Even though many expat women have had a successful career before their move, their general responsibilities have not always changed that much.
Many a woman also moves abroad for her career, of course, accepting overseas assignments in foreign countries. As expat women, however, they are still a minority and often have to stand their ground in a male-dominated field. Their husbands or partners play the role of the "trailing spouses" then, taking care of the children and of household chores. Especially in more conservative societies, in which a woman is generally known as the homemaker, not the breadwinner, this can cause some raised eyebrows.
This is where your company’s HR department can offer quite a bit of support. For the typical expat wife, as well as for the not-so-typical traveling husband, additional support is essential. After all, trailing spouses often suffer more from culture shock and struggle to overcome that feeling of alienation. HR departments can offer language courses or seminars on intercultural communication, to help traveling spouses adjust to expat life.
As an expat woman, you may face different health and safety issues while you are on an assignment abroad. A way to deal with these issues is by thorough preparation with our medical checklist for expat women. A doctor’s check-up, a comprehensive contact list, and plenty of essential medical supplies are just some of the things you will need. It is also important to have sufficient health coverage for your time abroad. Some insurance policies do not cover family planning or pre-natal care.
All in all, typical women’s health issues can become somewhat of a problem when an expat woman moves to a country with lower health or hygiene standards than what she is used to. Treatment and medication may not always be readily available. That is why it is important to gather as much information as possible and bring enough medication along, if necessary.
Lastly, you may already know that personal safety is another issue you will have to face. Many expat women experience unwanted attention or even harassment during their time abroad. Although we don’t want to scare you away, we would still like to provide you with some advice on how to deal with sexual assault and violent crime.