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Paper short abstract:
This paper analyses rural women's lived experiences of migration in Vietnam. Using narratives of migrant women, we show that women exercise their agency in decisions of leaving families, in exploring different livelihood options and settling with domestic work in spite of associated difficulties.
Paper long abstract:
This paper investigates the ways in which women exercise their agency in leaving native villages, migrating to urban spaces, exploring different livelihood options and settling with domestic work in spite of difficulties associated with it. Using qualitative data collected from 52 migrant women domestic workers in Hanoi (2019-2021), our analysis finds that women are self-determining individuals with an ability to exercise their agency. While much scholarship has focused on the challenges faced by women due to the precarity of the job, an inclusive feminist lens to domestic workers socio-economic condition would use their voice and 'lived experience' to tell their story instead of imposing a particular narrative. The picture that emerges from this study shows that rural migrant domestic workers have better incomes compared to their earlier occupations, are able to pay off their debts, educate their children, pursue their dreams for a better life, feel healthier and happier in urban Hanoi in spite of daily challenges at work and social life. This points to the need for ongoing and closer engagement with marginalised and invisible groups of women, such as migrant domestic workers, by scholars and support organisation, in order to better understand their perspective and to advocate for their greater social and economic inclusion in the mainstream economy. Conceptualising, imagining and researching just, sustainable and prosperous futures must take into account the voices and agency of migrant rural women in the discourse on urbanisation.
Building justice-oriented partnerships to support vulnerable groups in low-income urban peripheries