Silvia Cirillo

Developing support strategies. Personal networks of female domestic workers in Ethiopia and Tanzania

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Based on ethnographic research in Ethiopia and Tanzania, this paper draws attention to the personal networks that female domestic workers employ and mobilize to achieve their goals and face challenges, focusing in particular on support strategies among women. Domestic work is often hidden and open to abuse. Women describe their lives as isolated and subject to the will of their employers. However, mobility is a central element in their lives. Despite all the limitations, they continuously find alternative ways to explore urban space, develop new relationships and activate strategies of mutual support. Network resources turn out to be both enabling and constraining; however they are always part of women’s strategies for negotiating their own position and achieving their goals, which are the result of a dialectical relationship, within specific gendered contexts, between personal aspirations and social obligations, opportunities and constraints.


  • domestic workers
  • gender
  • personal networks
  • Ethiopia
  • Tanzania


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