Paradoxes of Feminization of Labor Migration in Finland and Italy: An Intersectional Reading

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Laura MANKKI, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
This article focuses on migrant women involvement in the host country labor market, with a focus on the service sector.  The research draws from 20 biographical interviews with Estonian and Albanian migrant women respectively in Finland and Italy. The article intersects with migration studies, gender studies and employment relations literature.

The aim of the paper is to understand how labor market segmentation is reproduced and how migrant’s gender; ethnicity and age become the factor to keep/find the job and consequently help restructure and deregulate the labour market.  Moreover we ask how the feminisation of labor migration, triggered by the economic crises, neoliberalism and austerity policies, affects the service sector and the working migrant women in two different labor market, migration and gender equality regimes such as Finland and Italy.

Migrant women do experience forms of equality and empowerment through work. However, especially in times of crises, they are one of the most vulnerable groups to suffer austerity measures and worsening of working conditions. In our study we find that working migrant women struggle between emancipation through work and exploitation through segmentation. Their migration stories tell us that the empowering experiences of entering the labour force overlaps with the precarious working conditions they find themselves such as discrimination and exploitation by working in low paid jobs and often in the underground economy.  

We argue that through intersectional lens; using intersectionality as an analytical and methodological tool we are able to follow the paths that govern these migrants’ lives in the labour market. Even though migrant experiences enables us to understand the motives, opportunities and contrains of their migration and labor market involvement we conclude that there are power structures and institutional level practices that needs to be read more often with an intersectional approach.