6d: A Social Profile and Analysis
of Migrant Domestic Workers in Cairo
Summary 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
What is the profile of migrant
domestic workers in Cairo in terms of nationality, age, marital
status, number of children, education and religion?
What is the scale and means of remittances
to home countries?
To what extent are migrant domestic workers
vulnerable in terms of family relations and responsibilities
in their home countries?
What is the relative permanency of migrant
domestic workers in terms of current length of stay and desired
length of stay?
What are the wages and conditions of migrant
domestic workers as related by the workers themselves?
Are there reports of abuse and other human
rights violations by employers?
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.
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