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Types of Migration
Internal Migration
Global Labour Mobility
Child Migration
Skilled Migration
Forced Migration
Return Migration

Key Themes
Modelling Causes
and Consequences
Links between Migrations
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods
Social Protection
Gender and Generations
Health and Education

UK / international
Albania / Eastern Europe
Ghana / Africa
Egypt / the Middle East
Bangladesh and
South Asia




Project 6d:
A Social Profile and Analysis of Migrant Domestic Workers in Cairo

The phenomenon of large numbers of female migrant domestic workers from sending countries such as Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Ethiopia to the Middle East and elsewhere has been attracting increasing attention over the past few years. Among millions of unskilled temporary migrant contract workers, these women have had a significant impact in the profile of international migration that has become increasingly ‘feminized’ over the past two decades. Migrant domestic workers have become important to middle class households throughout the Middle East and are a significant feature of the social landscape as they become more visible in public spaces. They are also an important source of remittance funds to their home countries. Few studies have addressed the motivations, character and working conditions of migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in Egypt or the Middle East generally, particularly interviewing significant numbers of domestic workers. This study will involve a substantial survey of MDWs that includes Filipina, Ethiopian, Eritrean and other African domestic workers in Cairo. Comparisons will be made between the reported experiences of MDWs in Cairo with a similar study recently conducted in Lebanon.

Key Research Questions

Dot What is the profile of migrant domestic workers in Cairo in terms of nationality, age, marital status, number of children, education and religion?
Dot What is the scale and means of remittances to home countries?
Dot To what extent are migrant domestic workers vulnerable in terms of family relations and responsibilities in their home countries?
Dot What is the relative permanency of migrant domestic workers in terms of current length of stay and desired length of stay?
Dot What are the wages and conditions of migrant domestic workers as related by the workers themselves?
Dot Are there reports of abuse and other human rights violations by employers?



Key Theme(s)
Gender and Generations

Egypt / the Middle East


Ann Whitehead

Ray Jureidini (FMRS)

Key Activities


Taking a human rights approach, the project will to a large extent replicate a study currently being completed in Beirut that surveys Sri Lankan, Filipina and Ethiopian female domestic workers. It will target around 600 interviews.

Key Outputs

A workshop
A summary report of findings should provide evidence for the development of policies that address issues regarding human rights abuses and the working conditions of various types of migrant domestic workers


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With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs