Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2017


Madrid has experienced a significant integration of Latin American immigrant women in its domestic service labor market since 2005. The general sentiment among Madrileños is that the phenomenon benefits both Spanish working mothers and immigrant women, but despite the ILO’s (International Labour Organization) 2011 convention on expanding the rights of domestic workers, the implementation of such rights under Spanish law has fallen short. Current academic literature on the issue of migration focuses on immigration law, attitudes, and practices. It also examines the intersection of gender, race, age, and educational attainment. We explored paradoxes between the Spanish government’s goals of gender equality and some of the realities of domestic working conditions for Latin American women. Subsequently, we asked the question: Do gender equality policies of Madrid’s local government exclude and marginalize Latin American immigrant women in the domestic service sector or to what extent do they benefit such women? Through survey data, personal interviews with Latin American women in the domestic service sector, and a review of literature on gender equality theory, we found that the local government’s priorities on gender equality are contradictory and myopic, even purposely blind. Even though domestic workers report relative respect and economic gains, they experience the effects of inequality under the law and limited opportunities for advancement. Such findings warrant further investigation of gender equality policies and analyzing the extent of societal integration of Latin American women immigrants.


Winner of a $500 prize