Time and location

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Conference: 9:30-18:30
VIDC Panel discussion: 13:00-15:00
VIDC/LEFÖ-IBF Workshop: 15:30-17:30
Diplomatic Academy, Wiener Festsaal,
Favoritenstrasse 15a, 1040 Vienna


The VIDC panel discussion is part of the conference "Joining Forces against Human Trafficking", organized by the Task Force on Combating Human Trafficking on the occasion of the EU-Anti-Trafficking Day (October 18).

Introduction: Nadja Schuster, Gender Consultant, VIDC

Keynote: Sara R. Farris, Sociology Department, Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom

Markéta Hronková, Director and National Coordinator of La Strada Czech Republic

Monika Weißensteiner, Vienna Chamber of Labor, Deputy Head, Department of Social Security, Austria

Moderator: Sibylle Hamann, Journalist, Author, Austria

Languages: English and German with simultaneous interpretation

VIDC/LEFÖ-IBF workshop concept

RSVP: by October 7, please inidicate workshop participation
IOM Wien, Katie Klaffenböck: Phone 01/585332246
Separate registration for media representatives: Phone 01/5011503320

Regular army of labor called migrant women: exploitation in care-domestic work

© istock, fotografixx
© istock, fotografixx


The era of neoliberalism – commencing after the oil crisis in 1973 – introduced not only a new political doctrine but also a new division of labor based on sexual and ethnic affiliation. The economic crisis had a different impact on migrant women than it had on migrant men in low-skilled jobs. Women employed in the care-domestic sector were not only less affected than men employed in manufacture and construction, but in some countries their employment rates even increased. How can this be explained? Sara R. Farris analyzed the transformations that occurred in care and domestic labor and their specific nature from a feminist and Marxist perspective. She argues that female migrant workers employed in the care-domestic sector do not constitute what Marx called a “reserve army of labor”, a surplus laboring population of the unemployed and underemployed whose existence is used to keep wages low. The female migrant workforce is strategically important for the well-functioning of the capitalist system, the leading sectors and the well-being of families and individuals in the so-called First World. Therefore, the term “regular army of extremely cheap labor” is more befitting as it takes into consideration the risk towards exploitation and/or human trafficking. The root causes for the growing demand are manifold: the increase of female work participation, the commodification of care, the demographic changes and the strong affective component of this work which impedes its automatization.
How can migrant women working in the care-domestic sector in the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria – often in isolated work places – be protected from multiple forms of exploitation and trafficking? Which measures with regard to social security and (migrant) working rights should be put in place? In light of the demand for a professionalized long-term care system in Austria, what are the costs, what are the benefits for the state, the labor market, the affected families, the care takers? How would such a system affect the sexual and ethnic division of labor?


Sara R. Farris

Sara R. Farris is a sociologist and political theorist. She lectures in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Previously, she was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and of the Exzellenzcluster at the University of Konstanz. She works on migration and gender issues, with a particular focus on migrant women and their participation in the European care industry. In her work, Sara Farris analyses the multiple forms of exploitation and domination that characterize female migrant labor in particular in the care and domestic sector. Furthermore, Sara has analyzed the neo-colonial and stereotypical representations of non-Western (migrant) women and second generation migrant women in the Western European imagery. For over 10 years Sara has explored these issues in a number of European countries and has participated in numerous studies on the working and life conditions of migrant women.
Selected publications
Farris, Sara R. (2015) In the Name of Women's Rights. The Rise of Femonationalism, forthcoming with Duke University Press.
Farris, Sara R. (2014) Migrants’ regular army of labour: gender dimensions of the impact of the global economic crisis on migrant labor in Western Europe. The Sociological Review.
Farris, Sara R. (2013) Neoliberalism, Migrant Women and the Commodification of Care. The Scholar & Feminist Online, 11(1&2).
Farris, Sara R. (2011) Die politische Ökonomie des Femonationalismus. Feministische Studien, 2, pp. 321-334.

Markéta Hronková

Markéta Hronková is director and national coordinator of La Strada Czech Republic (LSCz), a non-governmental organization which aims to contribute to the elimination of all forms of exploitation and trafficking in human beings (THB). LSCz tries to make the issue of THB visible by influencing authorities, media and public opinion to address this violation of human rights and by informing the public about possible dangers of trafficking and commercial exploitation and providing direct assistance to trafficked and exploited persons.
Markéta holds a degree in law from University of West Bohemia in Pilsen. For more than 15 years she has been working in the field of human rights with special focus on women’s rights and different forms of discrimination, including research on gender aspects of asylum seeking. In her previous work as Executive Director of Slovak-Czech Women's Fund she participated in several studies on funding for women’s rights and feminist philanthropy. Markéta serves on the boards of Slovak-Czech Women's Fund and Association for Integration and Migration.
LSCz, together with LEFÖ-IBF (Intervention Centre for Trafficked Women) and Bang Ying (Germany) implements an EU-funded Daphne project, in which migrant women, who are at high risk to be exploited and trafficked because they work in isolated work places such as households, cleaning companies and hotel complexes are sensitized and empowered.
Selected publications of La Strada Czech Republic
Findings from a Migration Mapping Study: Thai Migrant Workers in the Czech Republic (Puttarak Prachakitbamrung. 2011)
Kutálková, Petra (2010) Narrow Gateway to Human Rights - Identification of trafficked persons
Stop Labour Exploitation. A closer look. Analysis of the agency employment of the Vietnamese in the Czech Republic (Krebs, Michal. 2009)

Monika Weißensteiner

Monika Weißensteiner has been deputy head of the department of social security at the Vienna Chamber of Labor since 2001. Ms Weißensteiner has a strong expertise and broad experience in the political and legal environment of pension law, health and worker’s compensation and long-term care. She has been working on these issues since her employment with the Vienna Chamber of Labour in 1988. For more than two decades she has been a member of working groups on the reform of the Austrian care system. She represents the Federal Chamber of Labor in the working group for nursing care provisions. The list of her publications on the right of social security and long-term care is long. Concerning her academic background, she holds a law degree from the University of Vienna.
Selected publications (in German)
Weißensteiner, Monika; Buxbaum, Adi (2014) Investitionen in bedarfsgerechte Pflegeinfrastruktur – „überschätzte“ Kosten, unterschätzte Potenziale! WISO Nr 4/14, Institut für Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Linz.
AK INFOS (2014) Pflege und Betreuung älterer Menschen in Österreich, Eine Analyse des Status-Quo und 10 Forderungen für eine qualitätsvolle Pflege und Betreuung der Zukunft, Hrsg. Arbeiterkammer Wien.
Das Recht der Arbeit (1997) Aktuelle Judikatur zum Pflegegeld, DrdA 1997, 418, Arbeiterkammer Wien.
Das Recht der Arbeit (1995) Probleme der Begutachtungspraxis im Sozialversicherungsverfahren, Ivansits, Helmut, Weißensteiner Monika, DRdA 1995, 70, Arbeiterkammer Wien.

Sibylle Hamann

Sibylle Hamann studied political science in Vienna, Berlin and Beijing. She works as moderator, independent journalist and columnist for the newspaper “Die Presse”. Her articles are also published in der weekly magazine “Falter”and in the magazine “Emma”. Ms Hamann is the chief editor of "Liga. Zeitschrift für Menschenrechte" („Liga. Magazine for Human Rights“). Together with Eva Linsinger she wrote „Weißbuch Frauen/Schwarzbuch Männer“(“White book women/black book men”), which was awarded with the prize of the best social science book of the year in 2009. In 2011 she published “Saubere Dienste” as a report about the global branch of domestic services: cleaning ladies, babysitters, care workers. To research for her book, and in order to develop empathy, she started a self-experiment and worked as a cleaning lady under false identity.