Paid domestic work is a feature of households all over the world, from Ecuador to Swaziland, from Spain to the Ivory Coast. In many countries, it probably constitutes the single largest female employment sector (though its invisibility can make this difficult to document). It is work that is predominantly performed by women, and is usually managed by other women. Yet it has received very little attention, either from feminists or from trade unionists, or indeed from political activists in general – many of whom, particularly if they are women, depend on a domestic worker to facilitate their activism. This paper explores the experiences of migrant domestic workers in Europe, and in particular in the UK. However, the issues it raises present challenges – both personal and political – for women and men throughout the world, whether they are domestic workers or employers.
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