Abstract: Undervalued & Overrepresented: Voices of Migrant Domestic Workers in India (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

209P Undervalued & Overrepresented: Voices of Migrant Domestic Workers in India

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Aakanksha Sinha, PhD, Assistant Professor, Seattle University, Seattle, WA
 Background & Purpose: In India and globally, domestic work continues to be one of the professions that is rooted in the history of colonialism, slavery and servitude due to lack of workplace regulation and one-on-one power negotiation between employer and the worker. This profession predominantly consists of women that are low socioeconomic families, and scheduled castes and tribes (SC/ST) and have migrated from poorer states. The migrant women domestic workers (MWDWs) are often faced with exploitative conditions at the workplace and their social environment. Using a social work lens that emphasizes the impact of sociocultural, and economic environment on well-being, the current study aims to go beyond the direct-employer-employee relationship.

Methods: This cross-sectional exploratory study utilizes data that was collected from 91 MWDWs (25-58 years) from 6 culturally distinct states of India Data was collected using a 60-item survey with questions on: household composition, quality of living and access to basic needs, water, sanitation and hygiene practices, community infrastructure and safety, and working environment. Surveys were administered in person by interviewers that were fluent in the local dialect of the state. Univariate and bivariate analysis were conducted to describe and compare the situation of the MWDWs across the 6 states. Results were analyzed through the lens intersectionality and social citizenship theories.

Results: The study findings highlighted that the intersection of low caste, socioeconomic status and being female makes the MWDWs particularly susceptible to being treated unfairly and having unequal access to resources. These inequalities were seen in access to basic needs such as clean drinking water (59%), toilets (77%), and community services such as local clinics, early childhood care centers, garbage disposal, and an active advocacy group (40%). Additionally, the participants also reported to have limited knowledge about national and state welfare programs that could support their well-being.

Conclusion and Implications: The study significantly contributes towards providing an insight of the everyday hardships of the MWDWs, emphasizing the need to diversity the discourse of domestic workers’ rights and well-being to include the role of family, community, state and national level infrastructures, and recommending alternative approaches for securing decent work and overall well-being, that can supplement government legislation.