IFG 1 Public Lecture Series: International Migration from a Cross-Regional Perspective: African and Asian domestic workers in the Gulf, Speakers: Prof. Akosua Darkwah, Dr. Leander Kandilige and Dr. Stefan Rother


Venue: 3rd Floor Seminar Room, International House


Prof. Akosua Darkwah Dr. Leander Kandilige Dr. Stefan Rother

International Migration from a Cross-Regional Perspective: African and Asian domestic workers in the Gulf

Date: Wednesday, 8th May 2019
Time: 2pm-4pm

The globalization of reproductive labour, also known as “care chains”, has been one of the defining features of transnational female labour migration in the past decades. While dominant policy discourses   highlight the benefits of “well-managed migration” for the economies of both countries of origin and destination, the migration of migrant domestic workers in particular brings with it major challenges. While several studies have shown that migration can be an important livelihood strategy and route out of poverty, there have also been concerns over migrant abuse and extortion. In order to protect the rights of - mostly female - migrant domestic workers there have been calls for studies that critically examine the activities of the main stakeholders in the migratory process. To that end, in this seminar, we undertake a close examination of a migration triangle, made up of two origin countries, one a relatively newcomer, Ghana, and the other often described as a migration policy “gold standard”, the Philippines as well as the Gulf as a destination sub-Region.  We will use the experiences of migrant domestic workers, their employment conditions and cases of abuse as a starting point. We will then relate these conditions to the markedly different migration infrastructures in place: the policies for deployment and return, including pre-departure arrangements, the bilateral agreements or lack thereof and the role of the migration industry, i.e. recruitment agencies or individual middlemen and women. In addition to these stakeholders, we will discuss the role of organized civil society in shaping the policies and advocating for a rights-based approach, such as the ILO convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers. In our conclusion, we will interrogate the extent to which the efforts of these various actors ultimately