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Report/Press release

Migration of Sri Lankan Women




Statistical Reports of SLBFE reveal that the unskilled, poorly educated women outnumber men and other skilled worker categories that migrated shouldering a high percentage of inward remittance. Women migrant domestic workers make up a larger percentage of migrant women. It is a fact that there are many incidences of harassments faced by such migrant women domestic workers. This study aimed to determine the causes of migration of women migrant domestic workers, obtain a deeper understanding of the situation of affected women, assess the status and nature of postarrival assistance to affected migrants, identify the personal, household and community assets and opportunities that encourage migrant workers to stay behind their families. The study was conducted on a 122 purposive sample of "Affected and Returned Migrant Workers" from six Districts of high and low labour sending regions in Sri Lanka. Ampara, Anuradhapura, Colombo, Nuwara Eliya, Puttalam, and Vavuniya were the six Districts covered by the study. The majority of migrant women belong to disadvantaged communities where the traditional livelihoods are not viable. The reasons for migration are noted as being due to lack of access to regular and substantial income and the inability to bear the rising cost of living. In addition, some of the major aspirations of the migrant women were to build houses, collect dowry and to educate their children. Among the specific problems of the women that force them to migrate are high indebtedness, domestic violence and the alcohol addiction of spouses. Female-headed households remain a fair segment of the migrating population. Abdication of male responsibilities is noted as an increasing phenomenon that pushes more and more women to migrate. A total of 120 women out of 122 of the study sample had contacted Sub Agents for migration and 15 of them have paid the Sub Agents. Nine respondents revealed that they were trafficked across borders by the agents. It was revealed that the majority of WMDWs have faced harassments at the workplace. The most number of complaints from the respondents were of abusive workplaces such as absence of a day off (74%), absence of rest and sleep (56%), non payment of wages (34%), verbal abuse (65%), restricting communication(61.5%) and of food deprivation(44%). A majority of the respondents have not been able to get the benefits of the insurance scheme, scholarship programme and welfare center services (Sahana Piyasa) at Katunayake International Airport, according to the study.
Only 30 respondents in the sample have been able to meet their expectations of migration to a certain extent. Even to meet their expectations of building a house alone, the respondents have had to migrate several times. The study comes up with certain recommendation also to remedy the identified issues pertaining to women migrant domestic workers.

Number of pages


Responsible institution

Caritas Sri Lanka

Place published

Sri Lanka

File Attachments



Domestic Workers, Sri Lanka, recruitment

Economic sectors

Occupations in services - Domestic work, Home child care providers, and Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations

Content types

Policy analysis

Target groups

Policymakers, Public awareness, and Researchers

Regulation domains

Social security, Recrutement / placement agencies, and Migration expenses reimbursement mechanisms

Geographical focuses

China, Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan

Spheres of activity

Economics and Sociology