‘We Ethiopians Are More Sociable People: We Cannot Live Alone’
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In this chapter, I examine the agency exercised by Ethiopian migrant women in their relationships with others, in both the personal and public spheres. I begin by analysing the agency of women in the public sphere in Lebanon, focussing on their visibility and mobility. I discuss how their exercise of agency is impacted by their gender, race, nationality, class and migration status. I then examine the agency of migrant women in relationships with men in the destination countries and with the children they have there, emphasising the difficulties faced by women in exercising the basic right to form familial relationships within the constraints of the kafala system. Another important area within which women exercise agency is securing healthcare. I examine the limitations of the official systems of health insurance and the strategies that women develop—in accordance with their positions as contract, irregular, or freelance workers—to address their healthcare needs in the face of obstacles. Finally, I analyse the efforts by Ethiopian migrant women in Lebanon to develop collective agency through mutual support initiatives, through the creation of a trade union, and through their organisation Mesewat.
KeywordsEthiopian migrant Agency Collective agency Care Children Healthcare Intimate relationships Lebanon
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