Gender and paid domestic work in Sri Lanka

Authored by: Annemari de Silva

Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia

Print publication date:  November  2021
Online publication date:  November  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367479657
eBook ISBN: 9781003043102
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter considers the gendered dynamics of paid domestic work in Sri Lanka, drawing upon the findings of a survey with employers, interviews with domestic workers, and analysis of advertisements for workers. The chapter presents an examination of employment practices (e.g., salaries, recruitment, living conditions) and attitudes towards workers, as well as women’s motivations for engaging in paid domestic work. It shows that while employers imagine the domestic worker in Sri Lanka to be a middle-aged woman willing to forego her own family responsibilities to take care of the employer’s household, the actual Sri Lankan worker seeks paid domestic work to take care of her own family and relies on “family-like” working relations with her employer for employment security where labour regulations fail to protect her.

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