Accepted paper:

Movement of girls into domestic work: the case of domestic workers in Ethiopia and Tanzania


Silvia Cirillo (University of Urbino Carlo Bo)

Paper short abstract:

Based on anthropological fieldwork in Ethiopia and Tanzania, this paper examines the complex set of motives, expectations and hopes behind the movement of girls into domestic work in homes other than those of their natal nuclear families.

Paper long abstract:

Based on anthropological fieldwork in Ethiopia and Tanzania, this paper focuses on the experiences, life choices and aspirations of young women who migrate internally, mainly from rural to urban areas, to work as domestic workers within the households of their employers. Domestic workers are not an homogeneous group. A complex variety of reasons, desires and expectations shapes their movements, and individual responses to different situations differ. Poverty of their families is not the only reason that push girls to leave their place of origin. The intent of my study is to investigate the diversity of domestic workers experiences listening to their narratives and analysing the ways in which they construct their identities and histories. Giving space to their voices, I explore the trajectories that they follow and the decisions that they take. Decisions are never only individually and unilaterally taken, rather they are influenced by others in several ways. Moreover, decisions are taken within very constrained options and take shape from the ongoing dialect between opportunities and structural constraints. The intent of my study is to bring an accurate overview of domestic workers experiences in both countries. While taking in consideration vulnerabilities and risks of their precarious lives, I investigate both the gendered context-specific and the structural constraints that they face. At the same time, I investigate several strategies that domestic workers employ to improve their precarious lives and carve out personal spaces of action.

panel P071
Facts, myths and multi-realities on female migration