Care Crisis: Racialised Women at the Crossroads of Migration, Labour Market and Family Policies

Aus der Reihe

Besides job creations and responding to care needs, a central argument justifying the development of in-home care[1] has been that of gender equality. The paper argues that the stated policy objective of “freeing” the productive potential of the more highly-skilled women – as announced by the European Commission – widens the gender pay gap, instead of fostering gender equality in the workplace. Official reports on gender equality in Germany state that one of the main drivers of gender inequality in the labour market is the gender segregation of professions (BMFSFJ 2011).

Policies supporting household and in-home care services contribute to the development of a highly feminised, precarious and low-skilled labour sector, in turn indirectly increasing the pay differentials between men and women – and between women. This paper seeks to analyse the combined effects of family, labour market, gender equality and migration policies on the position of racialised women in the care labour sector. What are the objectives of these various sets of policies, and most importantly, how are they articulated? How is the policy goal and constitutional duty to ensure the advancement of gender equality reconciled with the growth of a highly precarious gender-segregated labour sector marked by the overrepresentation of racialised women? Special attention will be drawn to the implications of gender- and colourblind laws and policies. In what specific ways do seemingly gender- and race-neutral laws impact women and/or racialised minorities? What processes create such (un)intended effects?

The first section of this paper outlines migration policy measures linked to the labour market for care; the second analyses the gendered and race-related effects of the flexibilisation of the labour market on care workers; and the third explores the interplay between heteronormativity, structural gender inequality, and gender-blind laws and policies.


About the author

Emilia Roig studied business administration, law and public policy in Lyon, London, and Berlin. After graduating with an MBA in International Commercial Law from Lyon 3 University and a Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School of Governance, she worked for the International Labour Organisation, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and several local NGOs specialised in women’s rights and gender equality in Ecuador, Tanzania, Kenya and Cambodia. Before engaging in her PhD, she worked with Amnesty International for two years as a lobby officer. She is now completing her PhD in political science at Humboldt University of Berlin and at Sciences Po in Lyon (France), and currently doctoral fellow at Marc Bloch Zentrum in Berlin and at the Heinrich Böll Foundation. In Fall 2012, she was Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, NYC with Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw. Over the past four years, she has been teaching several undergraduate and graduate seminars on European and international law at Lyon 3 University (France), Postcolonial Studies and Intersectionality Theory at Humboldt University and at the Free University of Berlin. Her research interests include feminist and critical race theory, intersectionality, postcolonial theory and raced-gendered-queered epistemologies.




[1] The term “care” used in this paper refers to all activities encompassed in reproductive work performed in private homes, including cleaning, cooking, and caring for other persons. We will see later that the differentiation between “domestic” and “care” work operated in public policies serves to establish or reinforce a hierarchisation between workers based on immigration status, ethnicity and race. For this reason, and because reproductive tasks usually straddle both categories and cannot be neatly differentiated, I will use the generic term “care” for both domestic and care work. Moreover, as the scope of this paper does not allow for a critical analysis of the category of “care”, I will refrain from taking a clear position in the debates surrounding this debate 30/12/2013 15:50:00.

[2] Brunet, S. & Dumas, M., 2012. Bilan de l’application des dispositifs promouvant l'égalité professionnelle entre femmes et hommes. Les Editions des Journeaux Officiels, Conseil Economique, Social et Environnemental, March.

[3] The category „race“ refers to a socio-political and analytical concept. It is not conceived of as a biological category, but as a social and historical construct, which helps reflect social realities in Europe, including Germany. The use of “race” participates in the recognition of processes of racialisation based on religion, culture, skin colour, ethnicity and language in the European context. See Roig, E. & Barskanmaz C. 2013. La Republique against Race. Verfassungsblog: on Matters Constitutional. [Accessed 21.11.13]


March 2014
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