Housework in the eyes of Ukrainian female migrants


Housework sector has become a key employment segment for the majority of Ukrainian women in SouthEuropean countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, and also among the neighboring countries, where Poland holdsspecial place. The lack of public care servicesfor the elderly, sick and children in these countries, undevelopedprivate market for these services, and an active involvement of women into the labor market outside their homebecame main reasons for seeking new ways to address the issue of care.

This dilemma was solved by migrantwomen who, for relatively low pay filled this niche of the secondary labor market. Thus, the model of care “family”in these countries was transformed into a model of “migrant in the family”. Given the intimacy of a home, laborrelations between employers and Ukrainian females acquire a special character, unlike the employment relationshipin other sectors of the labor market. This type of relationship in the literature can be found as “patron-client”relationship. The basis of such employment relationship is “favour”, which is often provided by the employer to themigrant, e.g. registration of a legal status, addressing of various private matters. The immigrant, in turn, should “begrateful” for the employer’s help and to repay the kindness of the hosts with their work.

Thus, the peculiarity of therelationship appears to be a combination of subordination between employer and employee, and their solidarity thatcreates fertile ground for exploitation. In terms of emotional involvement and dependence on their employers,migrant women feel themselves as “family members of their employers”, although sometimes as invisible ones.

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