Studies on migrant-labour systems have focused on the negatives, particularly on women left behind as guardians of men’s interests, but with no real control. My extended research on former migrant-labour societies in north-western Zimbabwe has challenged this ‘doomsday’ narrative. It did not only reveal the feminisation of household and societal decisions, but also how the migration of men has liberated women and allowed them to play crucial roles within the household and society systems. My study thus illuminates differences between rural societies and cautions against the risks of over-generalisation when looking at the relationship between women and migration. It stresses the importance of migration on development, and the empowerment potential on women who take up prominent positions in the household and in society decision-making structures.