Remittances can be described as the private money that migrants earn in their countries of destination, which they send to their countries of origin. Global remittance flows were the second largest financial flow to developing countries after foreign direct investment in 2010, and often they are more resilient, increasing in times of crisis and need. In some countries, remittances can constitute up to 31 per cent of the total Gross Domestic Product.
Remittances have effects from the macroeconomic level to that of the household. Remittances can be sources of foreign currency; they can reduce balance of payments deficits and increase a country’s creditworthiness at the macro level. At the micro-level remittances go directly to individuals or households, raising their income level and ability to save and consume. Sending and receiving remittances can empower women, making them the breadwinners and decision-makers on household spending.
However, in most countries, the potential of remittances is under-used. Data on remittances are limited and their contribution has been historically under-valued, with remittances seen as fuelling only consumption and not productive activities. In a context of low education and gender imbalances, recipients, especially women, are often not aware of how they could make the most of remittances. Women recipients may face particular constraints from their families and institutions in benefiting from remittances. Finally, men and women send remittances in different ways, with women often sending smaller amounts more regularly than men, which may not be captured by existing schemes. As a result, many of the potential benefits of remittances are not realized as they could be.
The following resources aim to highlight the potential of remittances, and to provide specific examples of how their potential can be turned into tangible development benefits. In particular, the resources will show how to help migrant families to save and invest remittances for long-term projects; and how agencies can work with financial institutions to provide easily accessible and affordable services for remittance recipients. In particular, these tools will explain the gendered dynamics of the process, discussing the different constraints men and women face in accessing these schemes and the opportunities they can provide.
 World Bank, "Migration and Development Brief 17", http://siteresources.worldbank.org/TOPICS/Resources/214970-1288877981391...